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Mon 23 September 2019
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Savills will be contributing to the US Government’s policy of punishing refugees seeking asylum in America by separating children of all ages from their parents.


A UK-based real estate firm will be leasing out and building a children’s detention centre near Washington DC for the US Government in support of Donald Trump’s family separation policy.

Savills, a 164-year-old company incorporated in England and Wales, and its US subsidiary’s vice chairman Emmett “Mett” Miller are listed as the point of contact in a General Services Administration (GSA) bid proposal to house 440 children, who are known as ‘UACs’ in US Government slang – unaccompanied minors.

The global real estate company Savill’s job is to create a detention centre named the National Capitol Region UAC Facility.

Last April, President Trump started implementing a policy of punishing refugees seeking asylum in America by separating children of all ages from their parents. His administration has denied having the policy, but a leaked memo confirming its existence emerged in January.

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Stories of parents being deported while their children remain in custody in America emerged. Toddlers are now being placed into the immigration court system and there is rising concern about older children being placed into detention centres who are being given psychotropic drugs to keep them calm. They have told journalists that they have been “treated like trash”.

Two months after the policy began, a federal court ordered the Trump administration to reunite families. But, it is still keeping children away from their parents and loved ones 14 months later and 700 more families have been separated under a narrow exemption in the court ruling intended to allow parents who fall ill to be separated from their children for their own health, which the US Government is claiming on a very frequent basis. That loophole is likely the reason why the US Government is now looking to procure a new children’s jail which is scheduled to be opened in July 2020.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre found that, even a year after families were supposed to be reunited, children in Texas were sleeping in overcrowded, dirty cells meant for adults.

For his part, Donald Trump is busy trying to revise history by blaming others for his shocking acts. His Department of Homeland Security – the agency overseeing border patrol and most of America’s internal security apparatus – is busy surveilling US citizens who protest the child lock-ups, considering them a security threat for exercising their free speech rights, for unknown reasons.

Why this new child detention centre is being located right outside the national capitol is unclear.

Savills’ bid summary on the GSA website specifies that the detention centre would be housed in the state of Virginia, which borders Washington. 

The proposed centre would house children in only a 95,000 sq. ft. facility, with only 60 sq. ft. per child in 320 sq. foot rooms. Each room would be designed to house four children. It will also feature two acres of recreational sports fields and playgrounds. The facility would be operated by 147 contract staffers, according to the bid memorandum, and the contract would be for a fully-paid, 15-year term. Offers are due to Savill for its GSA contract by September.

The company expanded to America by purchasing a national commercial real estate firm named Studley in 2014 and re-branding it. Its unique market niche is representing large commercial tenants looking to secure lease agreements. Savills’ website touts its “flat management structure” as giving it a competitive edge, meaning that the parent company could have some hand or say in its American subsidiary’s activities.  

Byline Times asked Savills’ Mett Miller to comment on the plans, why the GSA is not listed on his extensive biography and whether he believes his work for the US Government is immoral, but did not receive a response.

After this article was published, Savills stated on Twitter in response: “Savills has been providing tenant and commercial leasing services to the General Services Administration (GSA) for more than 20 years… We have helped more than 100 federal agencies.”

It did not deny any of the factual contents of this story, but added that the firm does not perform the construction and “plays no role in policy-making”.

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