The policy of 'zero tolerance' has triggered something more than crying children. It has also increased the amount of money being paid out to organizations contracted to administer the shelters for minors who arrive alone at the border (almost 9,000), or have been separated from their parents (more than 2,300) after being detained by the Border Patrol.
Southwest Key Programs is the biggest and best-known company. A non-profit, it operates 26 child shelters in Texas, Arizona and California, with the majority (17) in Texas.
In fiscal year 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS) has awarded it $500 million, representing more than twice the amount assigned to the second biggest company in its field, BCFS Health and Human Services ( see table).
May and June reported disbursements for these organizations that were higher than past years, in the case of Southwest Key, exceeding $300 million, according to tracking data in the payments system of the DHHS, known as Tracking Accountability in Government Grants System, (TAGGS).
Company president, Juan Sanchez, said on June 19 that he had only 230 beds left to complete his capacity to serve 6,000 children at the Southwest Key centers.
BCFS has also received payments to fund host centers with several hundred beds in half a dozen centers in Texas.
The government disbursements to the three organizations that received the most money this year amount to more than $625 million, a figure that matches U.S. aid to the three countries of the Northern Triangle of Central America (Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador) from where the majority of migrants come from, about $655 million in the 2018 fiscal year.
In total, the government has allocated more than $943 million for the child migrant shelters this year.
The Trump administration’s proposed budget for El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras was cut by $95 million with respect to the previous year, covering programs for development, security, education among others, that are designed to mitigate the factors that lead people to emigrate.
The Cayuga child care center in New York has also been allocated resources in the midst of the new wave of child migrants, though it is receiving about the same amount as last year (about $2 million).