When former US Secret Service agents Dario Marquez, Charles Vance, and Bill Mattman founded defense contractor MVM Inc. in 1979, they began by providing “executive protection and training services.” Today, the Ashburn, Virginia-based company employs more than 2,500 people, operates in 70 countries and all 50 US states, and is the main contractor tasked by the federal government to transport unaccompanied children separated from their families under US president Donald Trump’s so-called “zero-tolerance” immigration policy.
After a June article in The Daily Beast revealed MVM was looking for people to escort separated immigrant kids to shelters scattered across the US, MVM said it had removed job postings “related to readiness operations under the current zero tolerance policy” and hadn’t “pursued any new contracts associated with undocumented families and children since the implementation of the current policy.”
But an MVM job listing posted Dec. 5, combined with a recently issued one-year, $29.6 million contract with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for “Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) Transportation Services,” suggest the company is back in the game.
“We’re looking to add Bilingual Travel Child Protective Case Workers who have a compassion for children and are passionate about serving and making a difference in the lives of others,” the job ad says. “If you can envision joining a team where you will have the opportunity to provide engage [sic] youth and parents of diverse backgrounds, then we are looking for you!”
Employees will accompany children and teens “on domestic flights and via ground transportation to shelters all over the country,” the listing continues. During these trips, workers are supposed to “use their language skills to communicate in a way that is culturally-sensitive, while fostering a safe and comfortable environment.” The job is located in McAllen, Texas, home to the US Border Patrol’s Ursula Central Processing Center, a warehouse retrofitted as a holding facility that can accommodate more than 1,000 people.
In November, Quartz reported that the Ursula facility was adding extra porta-potties and sinks to handle what it described in government purchasing documents as an “increase in detainees.” Contingency plans by the US Department of Homeland Security described Ursula as capable of holding up to 1,500 detainees.
MVM’s job posting says that successful candidates will be required to “travel frequently…with a minimum of three (3) days consecutively at a time and with short notice.” A bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, four years of work experience “in a professional setting,” or a minimum of two years of “professional, volunteer or intern experience in the field of security, law, social work, teaching, detention, corrections or related field,” are also necessary, as is a valid driver’s license.
MVM’s last ICE contract for “unaccompanied alien children (UAC) transportation services” began in 2014 and will run through September 2019 and is worth a total of $162 million.
In an email to Quartz, an MVM spokesperson said theBilingual Travel Child Protective Case Workers job posting is related to the 2014-2019 contract, not the most recent $29.6 million one that began on September 21. The spokesperson also said MVM’s previous statement about no longer pursuing new contracts associated with undocumented families and children referred to managing shelters for the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, not transporting unaccompanied minors who have been separated from their families to many of those same shelters, for ICE.
Last June, Aura Bogado of the investigative news site Reveal discovered MVM was holding children overnight in abandoned offices in Arizona without kitchens, bedrooms, or showers.
A local told Bogado he saw children and teens bathing in sinks on multiple occasions. “MVM would throw away all their clothes and even throw away the brush they combed their hair with and then reclothe them in sweatsuits and Crocs,” he said.
Nevertheless, MVM appears to be getting a more than adequate response from job seekers. As its most recent job posting says, “Due to the high volume of applications received, the Recruiting Department will contact you directly, should you be selected to advance in our recruitment process.”
This article has been updated with comment from MVM, Inc.