Southwest Key Put On Notice By Arizona, License At Risk

Southwest Key Lighthouse facility, Phoenix, AZ

In the fall of 2015, caseworkers with Southwest Key were reaching out to the media with concerns about the Unaccompanied Alien Children in their care. This week, the State Of Arizona is threatening to revoke the organization’s license.

Despite the serious concerns reported by caseworkers over the years, Dr. Cara Christ, Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) advised Southwest Key in a letter dated September 19, that the organization would receive a Notice of Intent to Revoke, but that it was her “sincere hope that Southwest Key rises to the occasion to meet and exceed the expectations of the people of Arizona and continue serving this vulnerable population.”

In 2015, conservative radio show host James T. Harris filed a complaint with the Arizona Department of Health Services about the care of children in the Tucson Southwest Key facility. At the time, Harris and the Arizona Daily Independent were receiving frantic calls from caseworkers in the shelters, who reported everything from lice infestations to molestation.

Harris’ concerns were abruptly dismissed in a phone call from ADHS Bureau Chief Diane Eckles. He later received a letter in which Eckles dismissed his complaint. [View ADHS response to Harris]

“From the very beginning we were on this and concerned about what was happening with these kids. We knew the Obama administration was orchestrating this surge and didn’t seem to care that kids were in the hands of the cartels. That didn’t surprise us, but we were disappointed with the state’s response and the fact that they seemed to be in on it. We were we getting reports about the surge from government contractors before the minors arrived, We had recordings of the whistle blowers’ complaints. Those recordings were turned over to government officials. No one seemed to want to stop this. They were going along with it. At least we have a governor who is taking action now. Still, now that President Trump is in office the mainstream suddenly cares? I’ve got questions.”

The Arizona Daily Independent received documents from the Office of Refugee Resettlement that show that staff in Governor Brewer’s administration knew about the arrival of the minors long before they arrived. Brewer then acted shocked when the minors arrived at the Nogales Border Patrol facility.

Related article: Unaccompanied Children To Receive Services From Southwest Key

“This whole thing has been a sham,” said Harris. “Whether Arizona officials wanted the jobs the minors would create here during tough economic times, or they were intimidated by the Obama administration, who knows. What we do know is that no one seemed very interested in taking on the issue.”

It was only Rep. Bob Thorpe, who was even willing to ask questions about the facilities after Harris raised concerns. According to Thorpe, he ran into the same brick walls and was met with the same blank stares as Harris.

In October 2015, caseworkers reported that minors had fled the Tucson shelter because they believed they were about to be turned over to cartel members to be sold into slave labor.


In December 2015, Thorpe called for an investigation into the Southwest Key facilities after U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley issued a statement revealing that federal authorities responsible for vetting potential guardians of children who entered the country without an adult, had been placed with convicted criminals, according to whistle blower claims. Grassley reported that the whistle blower, who was familiar with the vetting process, alleged that at least 3,400 sponsors out of a sample of 29,000 listed in a government database had criminal histories that included domestic violence, homicide, child molestation, sexual assault and human trafficking.

Related article: Three Flee Tucson’s Southwest Key Unaccompanied Alien Minor Compound

As Harris says, the new interest in the welfare of the minors is in reaction to fake news reports about the Trump administration putting Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) in cages. In fact, the pictures of kids in cages were taken during the surge orchestrated or at least encouraged by the Obama administration.

Crist wrote her letter to the founder of Southwest Key, Dr. Juan Sanchez, who is known as “El Presidente” at the shelters. In her letter to Sanchez, Crist cited Southwest Key’s failure to provide proof that its workers had received the required background checks.

Related article: Southwest Key Worker Guilty Of UAC Sexual Abuse

Southwest Key was supposed to ensure that it had conducted background checks on its employees by September 14. Crist complained in her letter that Southwest Key had shown an “astonishingly flippant attitude” toward government demands.

“Southwest Key’s lack of ability to deliver a simple report on the critical protections these children have against dangerous felons demonstrates an utter disregard of Arizona law, the mutual agreement with the department, and calls into question the privilege you enjoy operating a healthcare institution in the state of Arizona,” wrote Crist.

For caseworkers and Harris, Southwest Key’s inability to “deliver a simple report on critical protections” comes as no surprise. What may surprise the public and shock the collective conscience is how many kids were turned over to cartels operating in the U.S. by humanitarian organizations like Southwest Key during the Obama years.

Related Articles:

Thorpe calls for Investigation into UAC Care in Arizona

Three Flee Tucson’s Southwest Key Unaccompanied Alien Minor Compound

UACs are the keys to Southwest Key’s success

Unaccompanied children to receive services from Southwest Key

Southwest Key Staff Describe Unusual Tactics


    In late June 2018, a series of investigative news reports exposed the fact that Juan Sanchez, the chief executive of non-profit Southwest Key, was making a salary of $1.5 million while his organization had scored $458 million in federal grants to shelter detained children who had been taken from their parents at the southern U.S. border

  2. And our Senators and Congressmen didn’t speak up. With far more than 100 years of supposed service to Arizona where were their screams of indignation. Or at least authentic education of their peers on what truly happens along the borders. They are all corrupt.

  3. Clinton and Obama are like the
    Canary in the mine. Anytime they
    show up you know there’s criminal
    activity somewhere in the shadows.

  4. Brewer had notice she was a, Reoublican that right. Current conditions say over last soon to be 2 years are under who watch? Trump and as i recall he is a,awe Republican.

    There is plenty of blame to go around and ” both ” parties are equally to blame.

    What important is good ppl like James T. Harris and many other respond as humans and children of our maker.

    Children no matter what side of “man made borders ” deserve to be treated as you would have others treat our children.

    Let us reunite families who only wish is to give there children a better life.

    Richard Hernandez

    • Richard, they are welcome to do so in their home – and homeland – as well as here, if they apply and come here legally. It’s when they don’t that they bump and harm their own neighbors who follow the laws and come in legal manner. How is that good… oh there are no borders, but there are Richard and Mexico is quite strict about theirs.

    • Richard, that is what is being attempted in earnest now, but being blocked. Let’s be honest about reuniting families. The thrust of this story is that these children ended up here through the Sinaloa Cartel, they were not with their families. Regardless if Brewer turned a blind eye or Ducey has, it is not something that just started in the last 2, 5 or 10 years. It is now escalating. No real investigation was done in 2015, now of prior, so let’s please keep the safety of the children the real issue. It needs to become an authentic concern.

      And if these kids are in fact unaccompanied (sent through cartels or coyotes) to give their kids a better chance of life, what are the activists or the governments doing to protect them from those elements. The US or AZ Government didn’t create those predators but nor have we done anything to slow down their activity and abuse of migrants, women, men and children.

      And how for the expectation or deserving treatment of my children? If I leave this country, even for a vacation, and return with them, without proper documentation that they are in fact my children, they will be taken from me and detained under the same circumstance as these migrant children are being detained.

      Yes, migrants can enter illegally and then declare asylum, but there is something call affirmative declaration and non-affirmative (not applying at a consulate or border crossing,) Each are legal, but have different processes and conditions. Just because one can do something doesn’t me they should or that it is the wisest, most intelligent thing to do.

  5. The corruption of the obama administration surely needs to see the light of day. Maybe some one with some stones, in government, will start the investigation soon.

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