The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating Southwest Key Programs, an Austin-based nonprofit that currently houses 3,644 migrant children at more than a dozen facilities across Texas, according to The New York Times.
The Times reported Thursday that the U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Texas has launched a probe into whether the nation’s largest operator of shelters for migrant children misused government funds. A separate Times report published earlier this month said that the shelter operator, which has received $1.1 billion in federal funds since the start of 2016, had engaged in potential financial violations, including self-dealing with top executives.
The Texas Tribune reported in September that Southwest Key CEO Juan Sanchez is part owner of a property leased by Southwest Key; that stake was not disclosed on the non-profit's tax return.
Spokesman Jeff Eller said Southwest Key has “not yet been contacted by the US Attorney’s office or the FBI.”
“We have a policy of working with any and all investigations and we will do so in this case if it happens,” he added in a statement.
Southwest Key operates some two dozen shelters across the country, many of them in Texas. One is Casa Padre, a renovated Walmart in Brownsville that currently houses 1,377 kids.
Only one other shelter operator — BCFS Health and Human Services — houses more migrant children in Texas, including 2,745 minors at a temporary tent city in Tornillo.
Disclosure: Jeff Eller, a former Texas Tribune board member, and Walmart have been financial supporters of the Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.