There are roughly two dozen children being held at a shelter for immigrant youth in Pleasant Hill, and two of them are adolescent girls who were separated from their parents as a result of the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy.
Southwest Key Programs employees Kavita Sharma and Geraldo Rivera said the children both arrived within the last month and shelter staff are “working diligently to reunify (them) with their parents,” according to an email to Pleasant Hill spokesman Martin Nelis that was sent by communications director Cynthia Casares on Monday afternoon.
A Southwest Key Programs facility known as Casa Padre housed inside a former Walmart store in Brownsville, Texas, became a focal point in the national controversy over immigration officials separating immigrant children from their parents at the border.
Southwest Key Programs spokesman Jeff Eller pointed out today that the organization’s Pleasant Hill facility is not a jail or a detention center, however.
“We’re a childcare center … The only difference is we’re licensed to operate 24 hours a day.”
The children there are doing fine, according to staff, and going through most of the same daily routines as other children in the facility’s care — except for offsite outings.
“Right now at that particular place, due to the security concerns we have outside the building, we’ve had to curtail field trips.”
“We normally take kids to parks, ice cream, things like that … Due to the fact that there are people who disagree with this and have been pretty vocal about it, for the safety and security of the kids we’re not doing that right now.”
Children are only going offsite for medical needs and appointments at this time, according to Southwest Keys Programs staff.
Southwest Key Programs issued a statement on social media last week indicating that they do not support separating families at the border, but critics have pointed out that the non-profit organization does appear to be profiting from the contracts that policy has generated.
Eller referred additional questions to the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.