On Thursday, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell inquiring about the "stewardship of taxpayer dollars in question during unaccompanied minors influx". In the letter, Senator Grassley said he received information about a facility run by Southwest Key Programs that includes expensive amenities.
According to grant documents that the company gave HHS, the El Cajon, California facility contains "an organic orchard of orange, lemon, and grapefruit trees. As well as an Organic (sic) garden that supplements our kitchen with a wide variety of organic vegetables throughout the year." Also included is "an Acuaponics system where we are cultivating over 1000 Tilapia”. The grant papers also boast about the facilities "splendid view of the beautiful California sunset".
Senator Grassley said that word of these luxurious accommodations came only months after Secretary Burwell testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee about the need for more funds to accommodate influx of UAC's during the border surge this summer. According to Secretary Burwell's testimony didn't "have enough beds" or "have sufficient resources to continue to add beds" during the surge.
Southwest Key has been the recipient of $368 million in government grants in the past six years and over $122 million alone from the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement in 2014.
Updated: Thu, Nov 13th 2014 @ 6:00pm EST