Friday, January 11, 2019

Tent City Contractor Pressured by Trump Administration to Detain More Immigrant Youth

From Vice News:

Today, VICE News has released an exclusive interview with Kevin Dinnin, the CEO of the contractor that ran the controversial tent city for migrant children in Tornillo, Texas. In the interview, Dunn says the facility is closing down because he refused the government’s request to detain more youths there.

“The children were coming in but never leaving,” Dinnin said in an exclusive interview with VICE News. The president and CEO of the nonprofit BCFS, which ran the facility under contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said he was dismayed the U.S. government kept asking him to expand the camp. 

Ultimately, he came to believe that HHS would continue sending migrant teenagers to Tornillo as long as it could. So on Dec. 17, Dinnin sent HHS and ORR a letter informing them that his nonprofit wouldn’t accept more children at the facility.

“We as an organization finally drew the line,” Dinnin, who oversaw day-to-day operations at Tornillo, said. “You can’t keep taking children in and not releasing them.”

Soon after receiving the letter, HHS began taking steps toward closing Tornillo, including rapidly releasing the migrant youths. HHS denied that Dinnin’s letter led the agency to close the facility, and did not confirm whether it had received the letter.

Dinnin also claimed that a Trump administration official told him in August that if he didn’t keep the facility open and expanding, any new minors apprehended would be kept in Border Patrol holding cells — essentially jail cells — instead of being transferred to Tornillo.

An HHS spokesperson rejected that idea, and said BCFS have provided "vital care" to unaccompanied minors in a "safe and compassionate environment." HHS and ORR did not respond directly on whether that statement was made.


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