Immigrant kids kept in unlicensed Phoenix office building - Tucson News Now

Immigrant kids kept in unlicensed Phoenix office building

(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

A major defense contractor acknowledged Friday it is using a Phoenix office building as a “temporary waiting area” for undocumented immigrant children and families, but strongly denied the suggestion that the facility was a de facto “holding center.”

Concerned neighbors began asking questions last month after seeing vans full of children and teens in sweatsuits pulling up to the previously vacant office building on Osborn Road near 20th Street.

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

Videos shot by a neighbor show several children led into the building, including one particularly young child that was being carried. Some of the detainees in the video may be adults but it’s not clear from the footage.

“Ever since I saw those videos, I wanted to jump over that fence and go get those kids,” said neighbor Kristin Brown.

[RELATED: Arizona lawmakers want to visit centers for migrant kids]

Brown said she has never seen kids enter the facility herself, but said she saw employees in vans unloading large stacks of water bottles last week.

Through a glass window, Arizona’s Family saw a child’s booster seat and a plastic bin marked “Baby Shampoo” in the front room of the office.

The defense contractor, MVM Inc., said the “standard” waiting time at the facility is “several hours.”

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

“We sometimes use this building as a temporary waiting area because it is a safe and private place for families and children in between transport.  We would never leave these families or children at airport or other transportation hub [sic] to wait for hours,” wrote Joe Arabit, the director of MVM’s homeland security and public safety division.

[RELATED: Family separation highlights immigration in Arizona midterms]

According to a report by the Center for Investigative Reporting, keeping children at a facility for even a few hours at a time could require a license from the state. The facility is not licensed as a child care facility by the Arizona Department of Health Services, according to online records.

“You want to say you’re taking care of kids, then making it look like it,” said Brown. “Keeping them somewhere in a cold, dark building under surveillance – I don’t want my kid to be there. Why are their kids there?”

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