Some Contractors Housing Migrant Children Are Familiar to Trump’s Inner Circle


Ms. DeVos’s personal spokesman, Greg McNeilly, said that the family was proud to invest in Bethany’s work, and that the organization had a “great reputation.”

Another member of the Trump cabinet, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, once sat on the board of General Dynamics, which over the last 18 years has received millions of dollars in contracts from the Department of Health and Human Services office that works with migrant children. The company does not operate or construct any migrant shelters, but instead offers training and technical assistance to the shelters and provides other administrative services to the government. The company, which has a number of government contracts unrelated to the migrant children program, said it has “no role in the separation of children and families.”

Mr. Mattis, who resigned from the board upon entering the Trump administration in early 2017, is not the company’s only connection to the president. A General Dynamics employee served on Mr. Trump’s transition team, and the company’s chief executive, Phebe Novakovic, attended a meeting at the White House last year with Mr. Trump and other corporate executives. On two occasions, Ms. Novakovic has praised Mr. Trump’s trade actions.

General Dynamics, which has registered to lobby on the issue of “border security,” also operates a PAC that has donated to members of both parties, including more than $1.1 million to Republican candidates and causes during this election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The company, which says its PAC “supports Congressional candidates who support a strong national defense, regardless of their party affiliation,” made one of those donations to the congressional campaign of Greg Pence, the brother of Vice President Mike Pence.

BCFS — a nonprofit group that operates a number of shelters housing migrant children, including a tent city outside of El Paso that has been the focus of protests — counts a former Republican congressman, Henry Bonilla, as a longtime board member and a lobbyist. In December 2016, Mr. Bonilla met with Mr. Trump, then the president-elect, to discuss joining his cabinet as agriculture secretary. BCFS has also long retained Ray Sullivan, a lobbyist and onetime chief of staff to Rick Perry, the former Texas governor who is now Mr. Trump’s energy secretary.

In a statement, BCFS said its “children sheltering mission has spanned Democratic and Republican Administrations, and comes with proper government procurement and oversight built in.” Mr. Bonilla and Mr. Sullivan, BCFS said, help the group “respond to community needs and help inform federal, state and local officials about the BCFS System’s capabilities and work.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here