The Washington Post recently featured an article discussing the Department of Homeland Security’s surge shelters for unaccompanied alien children (UAC). The piece was clearly intended to deride U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – which the Post inevitably casts as a callous abuser of children – and laud private contractors who furnish lighted soccer fields and pizza parties.
Of course, the paper’s depictions of the parties involved are so cartoonish that they fall utterly flat. For example, the Post quotes one Kevin Dinnin, the head of BCFS Health and Human Services (BCFS), a company that runs migrant shelters for the federal government. According to Mr. Dinnin, “I hate this mission. The only reason we do it is to keep the kids out of the Border Patrol jail cells.”
Although the intent is, obviously, to cast Dinnin as a latter day Mother Theresa, that portrayal falls totally flat when it rubs up against cold, hard reality. According to the Post, BCFS will be paid $50 million for the first few weeks it is in charge of running the Carrizo Springs, Texas, shelter. The company could be paid up to $300 million. And Dinnin earns approximately $500,000 per year. That’s hardly the stuff of humanitarian self-sacrifice.
BCFS describes itself as, “a global system of health and human services non-profit organizations with locations and programs throughout the U.S. as well as Eastern Europe, Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa.” But, despite its nonprofit status, its government contracts, earnings and salaries seem to indicate that it is not immune to a little good old fashioned capitalism: a 2017 independent financial auditor’s report showed approximately $300 million in total revenues.
Meanwhile, the Border Patrol is regularly demonized by the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times and other blatantly politicized news outlets. But the reality is that Border Patrol agents, whose average salary is roughly $60,000 per year, regularly put themselves in harm’s way to save lost or stranded migrants. They also act as “babysitters and caretakers” to UAC’s apprehended at the border, even though neither of those functions comes within their job description.
In fact, during the Obama administration’s own UAC crisis, Border Patrol agents were required to work a day of mandatory overtime each week, in order to “feed, monitor and interact” with migrant kids. And CBP put out a call for any agents with child care, juvenile teaching or juvenile counseling experience in order to deal with rampant diseases, sexually active teenagers and behavioral problems.
Who are the real heroes in this ongoing tragedy? Most regular Americans would point to the men and women of CBP who continually step up to handle crises, even in the absence of Hollywood-level compensation.