WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — Seeking to house and care for the more than 60,000 unaccompanied minors who have crossed the U.S. border in the past year, the children are now flooding into state-licensed, federal taxpayer-funded private facilities due to overcrowding at government detention centers.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the Health and Human Service Department is responsible for caring for the tens of thousands of illegal immigrants after they are apprehended, and if they aren’t placed with a family member or guardian prior to deportation. The agency has opened up three temporary shelters in addition to the 100 short-term facilities to deal with the influx, but now the government is outsourcing the children to private organizations that receive millions in taxpayer funding, CBS News reports.
One example, Southwest Key, describes itself as one of the country’s largest shelter providers for unaccompanied children who have illegally entered the U.S. The private company operates 25 shelters in 15 cities across Texas, Arizona, California and they are receiving more children – and taxpayer funding – every day.
The shelters offer legal and medical services, crisis stabilization, and attend an on-site school while their immigration status is resolved in the courts. The goal-length for the children’s stay is 45 days, according to CBS News. Foster care, group homes and residential treatment centers are other options provided by similar private companies for unaccompanied immigrant children.
As the number of children flooding into the U.S. began to rise, the ORR began soliciting business proposals and recruitment for private organizations to help house and care for the unaccompanied minors. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also sought out additional organizations to temporarily house the influx of migrants.
In June, the ORR began a $350 million-backed push to recruit private organizations to submit applications to house the children between 30 and 35 days, although that length of time can vary. Education, counseling and medical services are listed on the ORR application issued to the prospective organizations – the deadline for application is Aug. 5.
The $350 million bill will be paid from federal taxpayer dollars and given to as many as 60 providers.
The application process has been issued to several religious organizations, including the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.
“Many organizations that began working with these children have been historically faith-based organizations that have extensive immigrant and refugee resettlement experience and a long history of working with ORR, as welcoming the stranger is a large component of faith based response to any vulnerable individuals to provide support, assistance and help,” Kimberly Haynes, the director for children’s services at the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, told CBS News.