Southwest Key, a “non-profit” that has a nearly $460 million dollar contract with the Trump administration to detain migrant children, has been forced to give up licenses for two facilities in Arizona and will pay a $73,000 fine after failing to provide fingerprint records for some employees.
“Last month,” the New York Times reports, “the health department issued notices of intent to revoke the organization’s licenses when Southwest Key missed a deadline to update it on fingerprint clearance cards, which are part of the background check process.” Additionally, “Southwest Key also will stop admitting new immigrant children in its Arizona facilities unless the health department approves them.”
There’s a reason for the laser-focus on the company’s actions in Arizona. Just weeks ago, one of the two facilities that lost its license, Hacienda del Sol, had transferred kids under its custody to other facilities and abruptly shut down without any explanation. Days later, officials finally revealed why: a number of facility staffers have been fired for physically abusing three migrant children.
Before that in August, an employee at Casa Campbell, also in Arizona, was arrested and charged with molesting a 14-year-old detained girl. That same month, another employee at Casa Kokopelli, again in Arizona, was charged with 11 offenses after molesting at least eight unaccompanied migrant boys over a one-year period.
In the case of the second facility that lost its license, a Southwest Key spokesperson said “officials are working out the details” of when any kids there will be moved. “Under the agreement,” the company will also “hire a third-party health care consultant to evaluate the company’s quality-management practices and systems, hire an on-site state-approved ‘evaluator’ at each of its 11 other facilities for at least a year and allow the health department to inspect its facilities without notice.”
But children do not belong in detention period, yet the Trump administration has a record number of migrant kids in detention—the vast majority of them minors who came here by themselves—and officials attempt to eviscerate court standards in order to keep families detained indefinitely. Advocates continue urging all to submit a public comment opposing that rule change here.