AZ Health Dept investigates office building used to temporarily hold migrant kids

The Arizona Department of Health Services said it was unable to verify allegations a building was operating as an unlicensed child care facility. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Phoenix City Councilwoman Kate Gallego was at the press conference where she spoke about the City’s role in making sure the facility is safe. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
A neighbor recorded video of kids being led inside this "vacant" building near 22nd Street and Osborn. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) –

Some Arizona lawmakers are renewing their call for a closer look into facilities holding undocumented children.

On Monday, State Sen. Steve Farley led the charge outside an office near 22nd Street and Osborn Road where neighbors have captured video of kids being led inside the previously vacant building.

“I call on the leaders of this state, Gov. Doug Ducey in particular, to take swift action to make sure that not just this facility but all the facilities that are housing children in this state are inspected immediately,” said Farley.

Farley says the facility should not be operating like a daycare without a proper license and oversight.

[READ MORE: Immigrant kids kept in unlicensed Phoenix office building]

MVM, Inc, a contractor for ICE, confirms it’s using the office building as a “temporary waiting area” for undocumented children and families waiting for transport.

“We don’t know how many other places like this there are in Arizona,” said Farley. “We have to act on this right now. I don’t understand why we all have to ask.”

[RELATED: Arizonans protest outside Southwest Key shelter in Glendale holding immigrant children]

There wasn’t any activity at the building Monday.

Phoenix City Councilwoman Kate Gallego was at the press conference where she spoke about the City’s role in making sure the facility is safe.

“If we’re taking children into federal government custody, we ought to keep them safe,” said Gallego.

[RELATED: Arizonans protest outside Southwest Key shelter in Glendale holding immigrant children]

Phoenix police confirmed officers have visited the building twice in recent months; once in May for a runaway 17-year-old and again in June for a welfare check.

“We would have the ability to shut down a building that violates fire code and safety regulations,” said Gallego. “Right now we don’t think there are children actively inside the building.”

[RELATED: Immigrant mother separated from child in AZ sues Trump administration]

Gallego said she was sending City inspectors to check out the building Monday. Hours later, her office said inspectors were unable to gain access.

Arizona’s Family reached out to the Governor’s Office, the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Arizona Department of Child Safety for comment.

[RELATED: Family separation highlights immigration in Arizona midterms]

A DCS spokesperson responded saying the child welfare agency could not disclose information about reports of suspected child abuse or neglect. The email went on to say the “DCS does not have authority or jurisdiction to investigate licensing concerns.”

The Arizona Department of Health Services tells Arizona’s Family it conducted an on-site investigation Monday, July 9, and was unable to verify allegations it was operating as an unlicensed child care facility. The statement from ADHS says surveyors found a locked, empty, unoccupied building.

[RELATED: Phoenix-area immigration advocates not on board with Trump’s executive order]

"Children in the custody of the federal government, being transported by the federal government, to a temporary facility would not meet the statutory definition of child care," reads the ADHS statement.

ADHS says it investigates all unlicensed child care complaints.

[RELATED: Arizona group asks governor to speak out on migration policy]

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Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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