A thought-provoking article in Time regarding the federal contracts given to house tens of thousands of illegal immigrant children.
It highlights the role of a nonprofit called “BCFS” which, according to Time, has received more than $280 million since December to operate temporary housing shelters for children who illegally cross the Mexican border into the U.S.
On July 7, two days before [the charity head] met Obama in Dallas, the Department of Health and Human Services awarded BCFS $190,707,505 in a single grant.
The Time article also brings attention to an ongoing theme under the Obama administration: its penchant to withhold public information of public interest. According to Time, “To shield vulnerable kids from angry opponents of immigration and the media spotlight, the government declines to disclose the locations and activities of many of the facilities operated by BCFS and similar organizations. That protectiveness comes at a political cost. Governors in states across the U.S. have assailed the federal government for sending kids to their states without notifying local officials, and congressional critics say that massive amounts of taxpayer money are being spent without proper oversight.”
BCFS’s job is massive. According to Time, it has devoted 1,400 employees to manage its temporary shelters this year. At least one U.S. Senator, Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), is concerned about possible lack of appropriate oversight. He has asked Health and Human Services for information about BCFS contracts.
Despite being almost completely dependent on the public, BCFS has faced heavy criticism for attempting to avoid public scrutiny. This aversion to basic transparency is extremely disturbing.”
Time reports that the BCFS’ leader received nearly $450,000 in compensation in 2012. At least four other top officials earned more than $200,000.
Regarding the withholding of public information about the location and operation of the shelters, Time quotes the Project on Government Oversight as saying the level of secrecy is unusual. But Time suggests it may be warranted to avoid “mobs” causing problems.
However, it’s arguable that the federal government should not grant itself the authority to keep public information secret based on its theories about what might happen if the public knew the truth. Under that rationale, the government could pretty much withhold any public information it wished.