Report: Feds Investigating Southwest Key, Migrant Shelter Operator For Thousands Of Kids In Texas

By Emma Platoff, Texas Tribune

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating Southwest Key Programs, an Austin-based nonprofit that currently houses 3,644 migrant children at more than a dozen facilities across Texas, according to The New York Times.

The Times reported Thursday that the U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Texas has launched a probe into whether the nation’s largest operator of shelters for migrant children misused government funds. A separate Times report published earlier this month said that the shelter operator, which has received $1.1 billion in federal funds since the start of 2016, had engaged in potential financial violations, including self-dealing with top executives.

The Texas Tribune reported in September that Southwest Key CEO Juan Sanchez is part owner of a property leased by Southwest Key; that stake was not disclosed on the non-profit’s tax return.

Spokesman Jeff Eller said Southwest Key has “not yet been contacted by the US Attorney’s office or the FBI.”

“We have a policy of working with any and all investigations and we will do so in this case if it happens,” he added in a statement.

Southwest Key operates some two dozen shelters across the country, many of them in Texas. One is Casa Padre, a renovated Walmart in Brownsville that currently houses 1,377 kids.

Only one other shelter operator — BCFS Health and Human Services — houses more migrant children in Texas, including 2,745 minors at a temporary tent city in Tornillo.

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