Elsewhere online
August 06, 2014

Tex. Faith Charity Takes Lead Role in Housing Migrant Kids

A San Antonio-based Baptist nonprofit started 70 years ago to run a home for orphans has emerged as a key player in the government's response to the surge of unaccompanied migrant children coming into the country, writes Time magazine.

BCFS, formerly known as Baptist Child and Family Services, runs two of the largest temporary housing facilities for immigrant children and six permanent shelters in Texas and California. Since December it has received more than $280-million in federal grants, some 40 percent of U.S. spending this fiscal year to house young migrants until they can be reunited with family members or placed in foster care.

Dozens of other organizations have been involved in the housing effort, which has drawn criticism from congressional Republicans because the shelters are operated in undisclosed locations and shielded from the media. In a July 17 letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Sen. Charles Grassley sought information on BCFS contracts, saying the organization's "aversion to basic transparency is extremely disturbing."

Immigration advocates and federal officials say the secrecy is necessary to protect the children's identity and ensure their safety. Armed protesters have demonstrated against relocating undocumented children to their communities, and scam artists have preyed on immigrant families, promising to reunite them with their kids for hefty fees.