AUSTIN — Protesters lined along the sidewalk outside of Southwest Key in Austin calling for an end to public support of the organization due to its operation of immigrant children’s shelters.
Southwest Key, an Austin-based nonprofit, has faced ongoing criticism of its facilities housing undocumented immigrant minors separated from their families.
“We’re here to say to the city and the county, end your contracts, every penny of public money,” Glenn Scott, a member of the Texas Association of Retired Americans – Austin Chapter, said.
Thursday marks the deadline for the Trump administration to reunite families that have been separated under the “zero tolerance” policy. According to the Associated Press, around 1,820 children separated at the border have been reunited with either their parents or sponsors.
Responding to the protesters, volunteers and leaders of Southwest Key said partnerships they have within the city of Austin and Travis County have benefited the east Austin community for nearly two decades. Angelica Faz is a community advocate whose nephew recently graduated from East Austin College Prep, a charter school under Southwest Key.
“They were personal friends of mine,” Faz said about some of the protesters. “This was a very hard decision, being put on the defense and thank God above I am on the right side because I am on the side of children.”
Southwest Key collaborates with local nonprofits for after-school and arts programs. It also hosts a golf tournament every year to raise money for scholarships that East Austin College Prep students can apply for.
“Our promise to our parents is that when their son or daughter graduates from our school, they will be accepted to a college or a university of their choice,” Dr. Salvador Cavazos, vice president of education services, said.
Last year, it raised around $480,000 to fund scholarships.
Cavazos said Southwest Key has worked to expand its different services to build up east Austin.
“A partnership with the city and county is instrumental,” Cavazos said. “We need to work together to address the issues that exist on the east side that are not new issues.”