BIW Owner Takes Heat For Work With Program That Detains Migrant Children

Jun 19, 2018

Activists in Maine and around the country have taken to social media to condemn General Dynamics, the parent company of Bath Iron Works, and other defense contractors involved in a controversial federal program that separates children from parents arrested at the U.S. border.

General Dynamics has been recruiting people to work at the border with the Office of Refugee Resettlement, with which minor children are placed after being separated from a parent who has been arrested for immigration.

According to a job advertisement for a lead call specialist, General Dynamics Information Technology supports the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

“It is a real sign that [General Dynamics] is willing to do just about anything to make [money],” Bath peace activist Bruce Gagnon wrote in an email Monday. “Ethics do not matter to this mega-corporation at all.”

“It has become common knowledge that General Dynamics does business with the child concentration camps that are housing babies, toddlers and children of asylum seekers detained at the U.S. border,” Lisa Savage of Solon wrote to General Dynamics executives Tuesday morning. “Your reputation with the public is sinking lower with each passing day that GD profits from racist detention policies separating little kids from their parents. I call on GD to do the right thing: divest now and donate any profits to date to refugee relief efforts.”

In a statement issued Tuesday, General Dynamics confirmed that the company “has provided support to unaccompanied minors through its work with the office of Refugee Resettlement, a part of the Department of Health and Human Services, since 2000.”

“This includes casework support services to help ensure special needs of unaccompanied children are met, including medical requirements, and to facilitate family reunification, only after children are under the care of Health and Human Services,” the statement continued.

But the company said, “General Dynamics Information Technology has no role in the family separation policy, nor a role in the construction or operation of detention facilities.”

Another contractor, Virginia-based MVM Inc., is advertising for a compliance coordinator to help with “the rapid deployment of an Emergency Influx Shelter for unaccompanied children,” The Daily Beast reported.

Since a new Department of Justice policy went into effect, parents suspected of illegally bringing their children into the United States are automatically arrested and their children separated from them and placed with the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

“ORR promptly places an unaccompanied child in the least restrictive setting that is in the best interests of the child, taking into consideration danger to self, danger to the community, and risk of flight,” the General Dynamics Information Technology job advertisement states. “ORR takes into consideration the unique nature of each child’s situation and incorporates child welfare principles when making placement, clinical, case management, and release decisions that are in the best interest of the child.”

Sleeping Giants and Grab Your Wallet, two social media-based consumer activism groups, have asked their Twitter and Facebook followers to contact General Dynamics and MVM Inc., Bloomberg reported Friday.

MVM has been a contractor for the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s temporary shelter services for unaccompanied children since 2017, according to Bloomberg.

General Dynamics made $15.3 billion from government contracts in fiscal year 2017, the Daily Beast reported.

Reuters reported in 2014 that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services contracted with General Dynamics to provide case-management services for children being released from temporary shelters, including reviewing children’s cases to identify special needs and ensure they are being transferred to safe homes.

Bath Police Chief Michael Field said Monday afternoon that he had seen no protesters outside the gates of Bath Iron Works.

The shipyard’s spokesman, David Hench, said the company had no comment.

This story appears through a media sharing agreement with Bangor Daily News.