Report: Video Shows Migrant Children Physically Abused by Staffers at Arizona Shelter

Report: Video Shows Migrant Children Physically Abused by Staffers at Arizona Shelter
A group of Central American migrants traveling to the United States, are seen outside a temporary shelter in downtown Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico on December 26, 2018. Videos of staffers abusing children at a minor migrant facility in Arizona were released. GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP/Getty Images

Video footage of migrant children being physically abused by staffers at a minor immigration center in Arizona was released just two months after the federal government temporarily closed operations at Southwest Key shelters, according to a report in the Arizona Republic.

Video of three separate incidents included instances of migrant children being dragged, pushed and slapped by employees at Southwest Key's Youngstown, Arizona facility, Hacienda Del Sol, which has since closed.

The videos were gathered from the Arizona Department Health Services and released by the Republic on Saturday. The incidents were first reported by Southwest Key in early fall and were dated from September 14, September 17 and September 21, according to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, which first investigated the abuse.

The first video depicted a male employee at the facility dragging and pulling a young boy into a room. The staffer slapped the boy and pushed him against the wall, which in-turn caused the boy to retaliate by hitting the staffer. When the staffer left the room, the boy is seen on the video standing to a corner then banging on a window in a door to the connecting room.

Another video included a female staffer pulling a child through a room. When the child laid on the floor, the woman dragged the child into the connecting room by the feet. It's unclear if the child is a boy or a girl due to the blurred-editing of the video, which was done on al the videos to protect the privacy of the children. Meanwhile, in the same clip, another staffer follows close behind with another child, who is also being forcefully pulled into the room with extended arms. A third worker follows behind them holding a folder.

Although too blurry to clearly see the abuse unfolding, the third video includes footage of an unruly classroom.

See videos HERE.

Authorities have not yet revealed if the videos directly impacted the federal intervention of Southwest Key facilities in Arizona, and no charges were issued against staffers as Sgt. Joaquin Enriquez told the Republic the forceful techniques staffers used on the children in the video were allowed under state law.

The incidents appeared to have occurred right around the time Arizona's health department was considering revoking Southwest Key's holdings within the state due to delays in company's background checks for staff.

Hacienda Del Sol was closed in October along with another Southwest Key facility in Casa Phoenix. The Texas-based nonprofit, which is funded by the federal government, was hit with a $73,000 fine and was forced to surrender license for two of its 13 facilities within the state of Arizona due to licensing violations, according to the Arizona Daily Star. As a part of the agreement, the facilities weren't allowed to accept incoming migrant children until the state allows it to operate again.

"We will fully and completely comply with this agreement," Jeff Eller, a Southwest Key spokesman, said in a statement to the local paper in October. "We are committed to making the improvements that are spelled out, and we look forward to building on these changes for the future. DHS's priority of keeping all children in our care safe is one we not only share but embrace."

Conditions in the nations migrant detention centers has long been a hot topic in the U.S. Following the death of a second migrant child in U.S. custody on December 24, Representative Joaquin Castro compared the conditions of migrant facilities in the U.S. to episodes of National Geographic Channel's Locked Up Abroad while speaking on a telephone news conference on Wednesday, El Paso Times reported.

"You have people who are strewn on the floor covered in Mylar blankets, which look like foil. They are body-to-body and literally step all over each other," the Texas Democrat said.

Castro, who will chair the Congressional Hispanic Caucus come January, said there seemed to be an "overall systemic crisis" within the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency .