Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme in California is one of three military bases reportedly housing unaccompanied illegal alien children in response to the influx that have crossed the U.S. southern border in recent months. The Ventura base now has over 20 physicians providing round the clock health coverage for children between the approximate ages of 13 and 17 housed there, according to the Ventura County website.
Between the Ventura base, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas and Fort Sill, Oklahoma, approximately 2,300 children are being housed according to a June 24 Military Times article quoting Defense Department spokesman Air Force Lt. Col. Thomas Crosson. U.S. Rep Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) was denied access to the Fort Sill facility on July 2. Meanwhile, some members of Congress visited the Ventura base on June 12, and the San Antonio-Lackland base has suddenly granted access to Congress for a visit Tuesday.
Congressman Bridenstine released an email he sent to HHS Deputy Director of the Office of Public Affairs, Ken Wolfe, that stated, “As a Navy pilot, I have been involved in operations countering illicit human trafficking. I would like to know to whom these children are being released.”
Ventura County’s website states that 70 of the 210 children in their facility have been released to either U.S. sponsors or family until their appointed immigration court hearings. The site suggests that community members desiring to make donations for the children make their contributions to Southwest Key due to staffing and security issues that are said to make donating directly to the base difficult.
In a Powerpoint presentation proposal to the Ventura County Board of Supervisors regarding the illegal alien minors, the Ventura County Health Care Agency (VCHCA) and Human Services Agency reported on the county’s participation in the emergency situation, according to a letter from two of the Board members. The presentation is entitled, “Medical Services for Central American Immigrants.” Mostly pictorial, the report slide-by-slide reads, “2,000+ Mile Journey,” “Children Aged 3-17 Years Old on a Four to Six Month Journey,” “An Unprecedented Need (picture notes projected influx of 90,126 minors from Central America in 2014, 142,000 in 2015),” “Immediate Housing in Texas (Breitbart Texas released photo of young men housed in Texas detention facilities),” “Former Naval Seabee Deployment Center; 575 Capacity,” “Texas to Ventura,” “Health Care Agency Participation,” “A Safe, Clean and Organized Shelter,” “One-Hour of Exercise Daily,” “Expanding the Mission of VCHCA,” and a final slide that reads, “For Donations: https://www.swkey.org/donate Questions? Thank You!”
According to the Southwest Key website, “Southwest Key’s system of shelters for unaccompanied immigrant minors are funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the Administration of Children and Families under the Department of Health and Human Services.”
In June, public outrage squelched a permit proposal for a Southwest Key illegal alien detention facility to be established in Escondido, California. An estimated 500 people showed up to address the proposal, most to oppose it, including Escondido Mayor Sam Abed and a staff member from U.S. Rep Duncan Hunter (R-CA) office there on his behalf.
Congressman Hunter posted a letter online, which was addressed to Mayor Abed and requested denial of the Health and Human Services permit application, listing annual costs of running the facility at $6-7 million and stating, “The solution must involve changes to the [Obama] Administration’s underlying immigration policies and a commitment to return the children to their homes as soon as possible.”
$457,947,289 in taxpayer money has been awarded in HHS government grants to Southwest Key, mostly for programs and services dedicated to unaccompanied alien children according to amounts tracked through TAGGS.
Southwest Key’s site currently lists “immediate hiring in Ventura, CA.” All job openings posted are listed as temporary. The following are names and numbers of positions posted: Youth Care Workers (275), Youth Care Workers–Transportation (60), Case Aides (75), Case Managers (25), Clinicians (16), Housekeeping/Laundry Workers (4), Human Resources Generalist (1), AP Clerk (1).
While the Ventura facility currently lists jobs as temporary, the Southwest Key lease connected to HHS in Escondido was for a five-year period with an option to extend to fifteen years. There is no assurance that plans in Ventura would remain temporary and not involve securing a more permanent facility to operate out of.
The entire listing of Southwest Key programs currently reports multiple locations in each of six states across the country, including: Wisconsin, New York, Georgia, Texas, Arizona and California. Listings for the specific Unaccompanied Minors Shelter Program include: in Texas–Canutillo, Clint, Conroe, El Paso, Glendale, Houston (2 listings) and San Antonio; in California–El Cajon, Lemon Grove and Pleasant Hill; and in Arizona–Phoenix.