In a lawsuit it filed Friday against the City of Houston, the government contractor tasked with housing thousands of child immigrants across Texas, Arizona, and California says it’s got until October 28 to open the building it leased at 419 Emancipation Ave. — now preemptively dubbed Casa Sunzal — otherwise the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement will pull its funding for the planned facility.
The nonprofit’s biggest beef with the city (and in particular the Mayor, who grinned in June at the idea of a permitting “slow-walk” for the center) is that the compound shouldn’t be classified as a detention facility but rather a residential one. Yes, the company says in its filing, “children are verbally discouraged from leaving,” the campus, but they “are not physically restrained if they try to.” 240 kids ages “0 to 17,” were originally slated to shack up in the compound, according to the Chronicle’s Lomi Kriel. The majority of them — Southwest Key says now — would be minors that crossed the border by themselves, as opposed to those separated from their parents upon arrival in the U.S.
Having already inked a 10-year lease on the former Star of Hope homeless shelter, earned some residential permits for it, and purportedly installed furnishings and equipment inside, Southwest Key is asking the city to pay the $3.3 million it’s sunk into the center, plus $5.3 million on top to account for other costs it’ll suffer — like losing out on future government contracts due to a bad rap for seeing them through.
- Nonprofit seeking to open Houston facility for migrant kids sues city over permits [Houston Chronicle ($)]
- Turner says he will not be “an enabler” of plan to put immigrant kids at downtown Houston facility [Houston Chronicle ($)]
- Previously on Swamplot: Southwest Key Says Emancipation Detention Center Nearly Ready to Welcome Kids, City Says Not Without Proper Papers; A Look Around the 2-Building Emancipation Ave. Detention Complex Now in the Works for East Downtown
Photo of 419 Emancipation Ave.: LoopNet