PHOENIX — The nonprofit Southwest Key gets paid by the federal government to house thousands of immigrant children in California, Texas, and Arizona. They recently held a job fair in Phoenix. Southwest Key didn’t let us in, but a few people who applied for jobs spoke to us about why they want to work there.
Southwest Key did tell VICE News the job fair came about because the number of unaccompanied minors typically increases during the summer — and because the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy has added more children to its care. The company currently operates eight facilities in Arizona.
One applicant at the job fair, Ezequiel Alvarez, is a nursing assistant. He told VICE News his mother was deported to Mexico a few years ago, and says he wants to be a youth care worker so he can “help” the immigrant children housed in Southwest Key’s shelters.
“I just wanted to give them some hope and inspiration,“ Alvarez said.
Others, like Victor Cifuentes, were turned down on the spot. “I've been out of work for a year. But they told me that I needed a year of experience," Cifuentes said.
Barbara Guerrero, who did get a job as a youth care worker, said she applied because watching news videos about the crisis at the border left her emotional.
“I feel like I'm giving back. And I'm doing something about it, as opposed to just sitting down and crying about it,” Guerrero said.
This segment originally aired June 2, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.