Trump Transfers Migrant Children To For-Profit Detention Facilities

Darren.Woon

The U.S. is providing funding for CHS, a private for-profit company, to hold some of the youngest migrant children.

Comprehensive Health Services Inc., or “CHS” for short, is the first private company providing shelter to migrant children signaling the Trump administration’s shift in placing children in the private, for-profit, sector, according to the Associated Press

CHS, owned by Washington, D.C.-area contractor Caliburn International Corp., held more than 20 percent of all migrant children in government custody in June. However, while the number of children has declined recently, the company’s government funding continues to flow. 

“The United States is the country in the world that detains the most children for immigration reasons, and probably for the longest period of time. No other country comes close,” Michael Bochenek, a Human Rights Watch attorney who serves on a U.N. research team examining the global detention of children, said. “To have private companies move into the area of the care and custody of children in detention-like settings is especially troubling.”

An AP analysis of federal data found that in 2015, CHS was paid $1.3 million in contracts to shelter migrant children. The company has received nearly $300 million in contracts so far this year, according to publicly available data. 

Although some argue that the Obama administration grappled with a similar problem, President Barack Obama’s head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Gil Kerlikowske, said the difference between now and five years ago was how quickly the government reunited kids with their families or other sponsors.

Under the Trump administration, the numbers of detained children grew because of Trump’s strict requirements to screen every adult in a potential home, which significantly slowed reunifications until the policy ended late last year. 

“These aren’t commodities. They’re kids, and they don’t need to have big box stores serving them,” said Andrew Lorenzen-Strait, who until recently assisted in running adult custody programs at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “This isn’t Amazon.com. You can’t just order up migrant care.”

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