President’s Message – Correcting the Record on Our Work at Port Isabel Detention Center

Published July 2018

michelle andersonThe Port Isabel Detention Center (PIDC) in Los Fresnos, TX has been in the news lately in connection with the ongoing national discussion regarding U.S. immigration policies. Ahtna Support and Training Services (AhtnaSTS) has a contract to provide detention center services at PIDC, and a recent story by The Daily Beast contained several inaccuracies and misrepresentations about our management of this facility. We wanted to take a moment to clarify a few key facts – and address how our core values with regard to respect, safety, quality and integrity guide every aspect of the important work we do at PIDC. Please read our full message on this topic on the following page.

 

Annual Meeting Recap
We are happy to welcome newly elected directors Margie Ewan (Seat A-At Large) and John L. Dye (Seat I-Gulkana) to the Ahtna, Inc. Board of Directors. You can learn a little more about them in this issue. Ken Johns (Seat G1-Kluti-Kaah) was named the new Chair of the Ahtna, Inc. Board and John Craig (Seat A-At Large) remains the Chair of the Ahtna Netiye’ Board. A big thank you to former board of directors Roy J. Tansy, Sr. and Angela Vermillion for their dedication and service.

Instead of naming a Board Member of the Year, the Board of Directors decided to honor the late Roy S. Ewan at the Annual Meeting and in the 2017 Annual Report. Roy selflessly devoted his life to advocating for our people and the protection of all Alaska Native customary and traditional rights. We presented his widow, Glenda Ewan, with gifts at the meeting in his honor and shared a tribute video that featured a heartwarming interview with her. It was hard not to get emotional hearing Mrs. Ewan talk about Roy’s work and their life together. His legacy lives on through the people he has inspired to take action and do more. One such person is the new Glennallen Principal, Miss Frances Jackson, who served as our guest speaker and gave a moving speech.

We showcased the new “Get Ready!” Shareholder Development video at the annual meeting which we are using to bring awareness to the abundant career opportunities and services available at Ahtna. Tracy Parent, Ahtna’s Shareholder Development Coordinator, contacted over 1,400 shareholders this year to assist them in signing up for our Talent Bank portal which allows us to track shareholder credentials and interests. We want to hire you and have developed pathways for professional development and opportunities for career advancement. Shareholder Development has been working to create a more robust Intern Program and introduce you to three new interns in this issue. These interns will be with us through the summer and at the end of their program will give a presentation to senior management on their experience and knowledge gained. We are proud to see these young people taking the initiative to foster their education and experience. We also want to wish the Class of 2018 congratulations and best of luck – we encourage you all to follow your passion!

The new Ahtna History Book, netseh dae’ tkughit’e’ “before us, it was like this,” was debuted at the meeting and all shareholders over 18 that couldn’t attend the meeting were mailed a copy. If you have not received your complimentary copy, please contact Eileen Ewan, Shareholder Services Manager at (907) 822-3476 or eewan@ahtna-inc.com to request. A lot of care and time was put into proofreading and fact checking the manuscript, but some inadvertent errors have been brought to our attention by readers. We apologize for any inaccuracies that may be found and would like to ensure that they are corrected in subsequent book editions. If you have any edits for the book please contact Kathryn Martin, Sr. Vice President at (907) 822-3476 or kmartin@ahtna-inc.com. You will need to provide the page number where you found the error and the suggested correction.

 

Alaska Day event held in Washington D.C. this April.

Alaska Day Washington D.C. Event
I had the pleasure of giving one of two keynote presentations at the Alaska Day event held in Washington D.C. this April. The event was organized by the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the theme was Challenges at America’s Northernmost Border. U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan, U.S. Representative Don Young, Alaska Governor Bill Walker and Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott served as co-hosts. I spoke about some of the risks and threats we face in our region as well as the need for capacity building and infrastructure investment. Ahtna is unique. We are the only Alaska Native Regional Corporation whose villages are all accessible by road. That accessibility can provide development opportunities, but it can also create increased exposure to negative impacts such as outside hunting pressures. The event spurred a lot of good discussion amongst the stakeholders in attendance and it was encouraging to see Alaska Native voices brought to the table early on for investment and development opportunities that will affect Alaska well into the future.

Senator Sullivan and Representative Young visited the Ahtna region on separate occasions this year. Senator Sullivan was briefed on the Gulkana Land Transfer and both participated in roundtable Native leadership meetings where tribal, regional nonprofit, and corporate leadership expressed their priorities. We appreciate our delegation taking the time to visit our communities and will continue to be diligent about working with them on issues that are important to our region and people.

Tsin’aen,

Michelle Anderson, President
Ahtna, Incorporated

A Message From Ahtna, Inc. Regarding the Port Isabel Detention Center

Ahtna Support and Training Services (AhtnaSTS)¹ has a contract to provide detention center services at Port Isabel Detention Center (PIDC) in Los Fresnos, TX. A recent story by The Daily Beast contained several inaccuracies and misrepresentations about our management of this facility that we would like to set the record straight on.

 

We take seriously our responsibility to provide exemplary care at PIDC. This is supported by the perfect scores we received from two separate outside performance audits conducted at PIDC in 2017. These audits reflect the findings of an exhaustive review of AhtnaSTS’ supervision at PIDC, ranging from security, food services, transportation operations, detainee care and safety, and facility management.

Our detainee officers are trained to be compassionate to everyone at PIDC. Our employees are taught to understand that detainees who arrive at PIDC are going through a challenging experience – and our employees take great strides to support them through this difficult process. PIDC detainee officers are instructed to comply with the guidelines set forth by the American Correctional Association and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Performance Based National Detention Standards. And our detainee officers diligently manage the needs of detainees during their stay at PIDC to ensure they are treated with kindness and respect. Our detainee officers also know that anyone who violates AhtnaSTS’ strict codes of conduct will be held accountable and subject to criminal prosecution.

PIDC does not detain children or juveniles, and they are not supervised by AhtnaSTS at off-site locations. PIDC is an adult facility for men and women only. AhtnaSTS is not involved in the arrest or border security operations of the detainees and/or families in any way. ICE and Customs and Border Protection make the actual first contact with the undocumented immigrants as they cross the border. They are then staged at another facility and ultimately transported to PIDC for medical review, housing, and provided with nutritious meals, and comfort care.

Our PIDC contract has no association or connection whatsoever to Trump Administration immigration policies. The Daily Beast incorrectly associates Ahtna among the “companies and charities bringing in millions of dollars off the Trump administration’s treatment of immigration families.” It’s important we clarify that the PIDC contract was granted in 2008² well before President Trump was elected. And the scope of our contract has not changed from the time it was originally awarded.

 

PIDC detainee officers have never coerced detainees. Our detainee officers have never told detainees they could return to their families if they withdrew their asylum requests, contrary to claims perpetuated in The Daily Beast story. PIDC detainee officers have no authority, directive, or incentive to make any such statement to detainees. And there is a designated grievance process that would have been initiated and investigated by ICE’s Office of Professional Responsibility had any such action taken place. We dedicate ourselves every day to providing a safe and respectful environment for those under our care who are working through the immigration process.

Our PIDC contract is not worth $800 million. This, too, was misstated by The Daily Beast. What’s more, the story conveyed the misimpression that AhtnaSTS is the sole beneficiary of the entire contract sum. The reality is AhtnaSTS receives only a tiny fraction of the overall award value, as the vast majority is paid out to support and maintain PIDC facility operations.

We have never managed a detention facility in Florida. The claim that we once had “run” a detention center in Florida isn’t true, either. An Ahtna company had a previous Florida contract that was limited to providing detention facility maintenance and food service in accordance with ICE’s Performance Based National Detention Standards.

We are not a Tribe. The Daily Beast story mischaracterizes this as well. Ahtna, Inc. is an Alaska Native Corporation established by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and is not a federally recognized Tribe.

As an Alaska Native and shareholder-owned corporation, Ahtna constantly seeks to enhance the overall wellbeing of our shareholders through employment, educational opportunities, monetary dividends, and other benefits. Government contracting provides a vital role in our ability to provide these benefits and the provision of vital shareholder services and programs aimed at preserving our culture, developing our resources, protecting our land, enhancing the lives of our people, and maintaining our cultural identity.

Our mission is to provide responsible economic growth for future generations of Ahtna people. The work we do at the Port Isabel Detention Center helps support this worthy endeavor. We will continue our commitment to deliver high quality services all of our clients have come to expect from Ahtna’s family of companies, so that we may continue to return strong value to our shareholders moving forward.

¹The Daily Beast story incorrectly states Ahtna, Inc. supports the PIDC contract. This award is performed by AhtnaSTS, a subsidiary of Ahtna, Inc.’s holding company, Ahtna Netiye’, LLC.
²AhtnaSTS was awarded the PIDC contract, which was previously held by another Ahtna company, as a competitive bid in 2014.