Texas Immigrant Children Shelters Had 150 Health Violations in Past Year

Ramsey Touchberry
Texas Immigrant Children Shelters Had 150 Health Violations in Past Year

Texas health inspectors found nearly 150 violations within the past year at more than a dozen facilities in Texas that house migrant children who illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

Some of the most serious violations included a child who wasn’t given medical treatment for a sexually transmitted disease (STD) until two weeks later, a staffer who came to work drunk and an employee who left a child alone in a bathroom for 15 minutes. That action resulted in the child hurting themselves, according to state inspection reports.

Other violations included an employee who was hired despite failing a pre-employment drug test, children being given food they were allergic to and staff members leaving children unsupervised.

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The shelters are run by Southwest Key Programs, which operates 16 shelters and housed nearly 2,600 children last month, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Southwest Key, which describes their mission as "opening doors to opportunity so individuals can achieve their dreams," did not immediately respond to Newsweek’s request for comment, but spokeswoman Cindy Casares told San Antonio Express-News that the non-profit organization is proud of its track record. 

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“In the last 3 years, Southwest Key UM shelter programs have been evaluated for compliance on 73,292 standards and we are proud to say that less than one percent of those resulted in a deficiency,” Casares told Express-News in a written statement. “However, we take each of the deficiencies seriously by self-reporting to invite external investigations as well as performing our own internal investigations. When called for, staff have been terminated or retrained as we continue to strive for excellence in the services we provide to the children entrusted to our care.”

Just last week, Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon was denied access to Southwest Key’s shelter in Brownsville just before staff called police on him. That shelter was cited for 13 violations in the past year, including not providing medical treatment for a child with an STD until two weeks later.

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The United Nations called on the Trump administration last week to stop separating immigrant children from families that illegally cross the border, something Attorney General Jeff Sessions said is a way to deter future illegal border crossings.

On Friday, senate Democrats introduced legislation that would stop the separation of families who enter the country illegal through the U.S.-Mexico border.

This article was first written by Newsweek

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