The Investigators

Jul 1, 2014 12:28 AM by Lupita Murillo and Michel Marizco

N4T Investigators: Sheltering unaccompanied migrant children a growing economy

The Obama Administration asked Congress Monday for $2 billion more to spend on emergency funds for securing the U.S.-Mexico border. The request came as the border region was flooded with Central American migrants, many of them children.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators have also reviewed financial disclosures that show a growth industry in the economy of sheltering unaccompanied immigrant children worth millions of dollars. The non-profit group that's won government contracts for sheltering those children has nearly doubled its revenue in a two year period. And the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which administers those contracts, has declined requests from the News 4 Tucson Investigators to explain how much it is spending of taxpayer money to pay for the childrens' shelters.

Southwest Key is one of the few organizations in the country that can house unaccompanied immigrant kids. It won its contract through the Office of Refugee Resettlement. The agency falls under HHS. Its spokespeople have declined to state how much it is spending to house unaccompanied children nationwide.

But Southwest Key's 990 forms filed with the IRS, show a non-profit that's been expanding across the country. And, so have its finances. In 2011, Southwest Key reported $62 million in revenue. By 2012, it reported $85 million in revenue. By 2013, Southwest Key's revenue was at $124 million.
Asked to account for its finances, Southwest Key released a single page document that showed only how much was taken in for each year and how much was spent.

This week, Southwest Key spokeswoman Cindy Casares' voice mailbox was filled. The spokeswoman has not responded to questions about how much is being spent on the organization's Tucson facility.

According to the group's IRS filing in 2012, Southwest Key had 64 programs nationwide and employed at least 1,000 employees. It's grown since then. Meanwhile, its president and CEO, Dr. Juan Sanchez, drew a salary of $264,000 in 2012.

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