Former Southwest Key employee addresses misconceptions in facility conditions

Outrage over the separation of immigrant families has placed Southwest Key programs front and center. The non-profit organization was awarded an almost billion-dollar grant to house children detained at the border.

Teo Tijerina is a former employee from 2013 to 2015. He said the facilities he witnessed were not the heart wrenching images portrayed in the media. Tijerina said those detainment centers were temporary INS holding areas before children were placed in long term facilities like Southwest Key.

"They basically look as much as you can make the shelter look like a school. There's no bars, I saw beds, dormitory type beds…I saw children playing in soccer fields,” said Tijerina. "I’ve seen a lot of chatter and a lot of misinformation about the work that Southwest Key does and I thought that it was unfair to the employees, many of them former colleagues of mine."

Tijernia adds aside from Southwest Key shelters they also work with private foundations to operate juvenile justice programs and charter schools for underprivileged youth. 

Thursday demonstrators with "Immigrant Liberation Front" marched to Southwest Key CEO Juan Sanchez's home demanding immigration shelters. But without a quick resolution to reunite families and immigration reform, facilities like Southwest Key will remain.