The founder and CEO of a 30-year-old Texas non-profit group tasked with housing illegal immigrant children is being challenged by media outlets for allegedly taking a $1.5 million salary in 2016 (latest report available). The group’s revenue increased more than ten-fold since 2008 as the numbers of unaccompanied minors and separated families increased over the year.
Southwest Key CEO and founder, Juan Sanchez, drew a salary of $1.5 million in 2016, according to a Fox News report. In addition to that, his wife, Jennifer, drew a $280,000 salary in 2015, the article states. She reportedly works as the non-profit’s vice president.
Fox News also reported that Sanchez’s daughter, Xiomara Goss, also joined Southwest Key as the non-profit’s fundraising director. Her salary has not yet been disclosed.
Sanchez’s reported 2016 salary of $1.5 million is up from the previous year’s salary of more than $780,000, Fox News reported.
When asked how he could justify the high salary while managing an Austin-based non-profit group that provides shelter for children who illegally crossed the border, Sanchez told the Austin American-Stateman, “We bring in $450 million, and I have 7,000 employees to manage. And we’re in eight states in the country, and we have been doing this for 30 years. I think the salary’s justifiable.”
Fox News reported that Southwest Key’s revenues in 2008 were $31 million. From that point, it grew to $36 million in 2011 and to $88 million in 2013. When news of the surge of unaccompanied minors crossing the border broke in 2014, the group’s revenues more than doubled to $179 million.
Since that time, Southwest Key’s annual revenue jumped to $211 million in 2017 and $458 million in 2018, Fox News continued.
The group reportedly operates 26 shelters for migrant children in three border states — Texas, Arizona, and California, Fox News stated. The group is moving to open an additional shelter in Houston for unaccompanied minors and children who have been removed from the adult they crossed the border with.
In 2016, the number of unaccompanied minors and family units illegally crossing the border dropped dramatically following the swearing in of President Donald Trump. This prompted the non-profit to lay off more than 1,000 workers, Breitbart Texas reported. The decrease in numbers did not last long and, according to the Fox News numbers, Southwest Key’s revenues jumped back up.
The group made news again last week when a 15-year-old Honduran boy escaped from its Casa de Padre shelter in Brownsville, Texas, Breitbart Texas’ Ildefonso Ortiz reported. The young man apparently crossed the border back into Mexico.
Southwest Key’s shelters have come under protests from open borders groups who are upset with the president’s policies on dealing with minors who are separated from their families after making very dangerous trips through Mexico and then across the border into the U.S., Ortiz reported.
“We respect the right of people to express their opinions,” Southwest Key Programs spokesman Jeff Eller told Fox News. “We hope they will take the time to fully understand what we do and how we do it and we welcome that discussion.”
He said they are mischaracterized as operating detention centers. In actuality, the group operates what they call “child care centers.”
“We’re conflated with detention centers,” Eller explained in the Fox News interview. “We’re not cages and mylo blankets. We don’t run detention centers, we run child care centers.”
Eller fought back againsts critics, saying, “They look back and say ‘If we turn away 5,000-plus kids, would someone take as good care of them as we do? We can’t say they will, so we have to continue doing what we’re doing.”
CEO Juan Sanchez summed it up in an editorial published by the Dallas Morning News where he wrote, “In the face of these misrepresentations, we continue to operate with unwavering dedication to children. Safe reunification, as it has always been, remains our focus. Providing safe, loving, caring protection for children is our day-to-day.”