Nearly every spring, shelters begin hiring additional personnel to care for unaccompanied migrant children who begin crossing the U.S. Mexico border due to friendly weather. This year, the annual trek of migrant children turned into a tsunami as a result of the Biden administration’s decision to end the Trump administration’s “Remain-in-Mexico” policy.
On January 25, 2019, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the implementation of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the “Remain in Mexico” program. The policy allows U.S. Border Patrol to return non-Mexican asylum seekers to Mexico as their claims are adjudicated in US immigration courts.
Although Governor Doug Ducey and others have called the mass migration a crisis, for those who operate the shelters, it is cash flow.
For Arizona’s still-displaced service industry employees, the shelters are offering much needed well-paying jobs.
For example, Southwest Key is hiring for multiple positions including Teacher, Teacher’s Assistant, Youth Care Worker, Assistant Case Manager, Case Manager, Medical Coordinator, Case Aide, and Shift Leader.
Currently, Southwest Key operates a total of eight facilities for Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) in Youngtown, Glendale, Phoenix, Mesa, and Tucson.
Since 2015, Southwest Key has “unified more than 100,000 immigrant children with sponsors or families,” according to the company’s website. This year, the shelters are expected to house a record number of UACs.
Southwest Key is not the only shelter or other UAC service provider hiring. MVM Inc., which provides “secure transportation for vulnerable populations” is hiring in the Phoenix area. The International Rescue Committee and other traditional refugee service providers are hiring as well.
Southwest Key’s UAC shelters are part of a federal shelter system that was created as a result of the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement. The agreement mandates the release of UACs from Border Patrol custody within 72 hours. The UACs are then transferred into the custody of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, which contracts with organizations like Southwest Key.
The high number of UACs arriving at this time has made it nearly impossible for the overwhelmed officers to meet the 72-hour transfer deadline.