Read media coverage here:

The Dystopian Horror of Housing Children in an Old Walmart , HuffPost 6/22

Walmart ‘Surprised’ Old Store Is a Migrant Shelter. Records Hinted at the Possibility, New York Times 6/20

For Immediate Release: June 21, 2018

MCAW Demands Walmart Help Children Detained in Former Store

MCAW calls on Walmart to put profit from sale of its building towards reuniting detained children with their parents

Also demands Walmart prevent future use of old locations as child immigrant detention centers

Washington D.C. – Following yesterday’s wave of companies standing against the heartless and inhumane separation of immigrant children and their parents, Making Change at Walmart (MCAW), demands Walmart follows suit and enact policies to prevent any of its stores from being used as child immigrant detention facilities in the future.

“If Walmart is the good community partner it claims to be, then it should have no problem giving the $4.5 million it received from the sale of its Brownsville location, that is now a child immigrant detention center, towards reuniting detained children with their parents,” said MCAW communications director, Amy Ritter.

Earlier this week, MCAW unearthed documents proving Walmart sold its former Brownsville, Texas location to a company that would likely lease it to be used as a child immigrant detention center, as reported by the New York Times. Since the sale, there have been numerous violations at the children detention center, now Casa Padre. The American Academy of Pediatrics finds that “DHS facilities do not meet the basic standards for the care of children in residential settings.”

“If Walmart can prohibit their old locations from becoming adult video stores or bar night clubs, then it can surely prevent former locations from being used to jail children. Walmart can and should ensure its properties are never used to keep families separated again. Walmart has a responsibility to the communities it operates in and must do better,” said Ritter.

  • United, Frontier, and American Airlines have all asked U.S. immigration officials not to fly children separated from their families on its planes and public pressure has been mounting for Walmart to step up as well.
  • In Dallas, Texas, Chicago Ill., and San Diego, Calif. Latino and community groups joined MCAW to protest Walmart’s complicity in the Casa Padre deal

For Immediate Release: June 20, 2018

MCAW Unearths Shocking Documents Showing Walmart Likely Knew Store Would Become Child Immigrant Detention Center

Washington, D.C. – Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) today released documents showing that Walmart knowingly sold their old store location in Brownsville, Texas in 2016 to a company that would likely lease the building to a child immigration detention center. Walmart recently claimed they “had no idea” their store “would go on to be used in such a disturbing way,” but documents prove that it continues to receive payments towards the sale of the property. The New York Times reported that while Walmart claims to be surprised at the use of its old building as a child detention center, records hinted at the possibility.

“Instead of preventing its old location from being used as a child detainment center, Walmart saw this as an opportunity to make a profit at the expense of children,” said MCAW communications director Amy Ritter. “Most Americans look at these detention centers and see children being ripped away from their families and held in jail-like conditions.”

Ritter added: Walmart’s values are on display here in a truly disturbing way. The documents not only show that Walmart signed off on selling the building to most likely be used by Southwest Keys, but they made over $4 million doing it.”

MCAW will be holding demonstrations tomorrow, June 20th, in Dallas, Texas; San Diego, Calif.; and Chicago, Ill. in protest of Walmart’s role in the child immigrant detention center.

Here are the facts:

  • In January 2016, the Walmart located at 7480 Padre Island Highway closed.
  • In November 2016, an article stated that Southwest Key Programs, a nonprofit known for housing tens of thousands of immigrant children, was interested in using the old Walmart store as a “housing facility.”
  • In December 2016, Walmart Real Estate Business Trust sold the property to CHACBAK, LLC under a “Special Warranty Deed with Vendor Lien.” It is highly unlikely Walmart would have agreed to the type of payment plan, which allows the purchaser to make payments for the sale, unless the retailer knew how Southwest Key was planning to use the property in order to pay Walmart.
  • In January 2017, shortly after the sale, a local news story reported that the old Walmart store will be used as a shelter for immigrant children.
  • On June 14, 2018, Casa Padre made headlines as being the largest licensed migrant children’s shelter in the country, housing children in jail-like conditions without parental supervision.
  • On June 15, 2018, Walmart began a series of tweets responding to individual Twitter users claiming the company was “surprised to learn about the disturbing way our former store is being used.” Though Southwest Key Programs Inc. is clearly listed on the sale deed as lending CHACBAK the $4.5 million needed to purchase the building.

# # #

Background on Southwest Key:

  • Southwest Key Programs Inc. operates four immigrant children shelters in Brownsville, Texas, two of which are located at properties owned by CHACBAK (Casa Padre and Nueva Esperanza).
  • A summary of the number/severity of deficiencies at Casa Padre and Nueva Esperanza identified by Health and Human Services over the past three years.
  • A deficiency is defined as “a violation, is any failure to comply with a Child Care Licensing minimum standard, rule, child care law, specific conditions or restrictions on a permit, or conditions of evaluation, probation, or suspension.”

Background on the use of deed restrictions:

  • It is common for retailers, including Walmart, to put deed restrictions on their properties before, during, and after the building/property is sold. These restrictions severely limit how the building can be used once it’s vacant.
  • The former Walmart store in Brownsville, which now houses Casa Padre, was restricted from becoming a retail competitor, adult book or video store, or bar/night club for 25 years.

Additional information:

  • Documentation of the $4,500,000 loan from Southwest Key to CHACBAK for the purchase of the Walmart store.

Sales Deed for old Walmart Building:

DOC A -sale from WMT to CHACBAK using SW Key Note

Tweets from Walmart claiming to be “shocked” and “disturbed” by knowledge of the use of the building: