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.

Related: Man takes his own life after being separated from family at U.S.-Mexico border

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

"The shelters are run by Southwest Key Programs and are licensed by the state of Texas. The non-profit organization operates 16 shelters and housed 23,000 in the past two years, according to Director of Communications Cindy Casares.

Casares told Newsweek in an email that it’s important to note all of the most serious violations were self-reported to the state and that of the 73,292 standards the organization has been evaluated for in the past three years, it has only received 238 violations.

“After any reported medical error, Southwest Key investigates the situation as well as the relevant staff member(s) to determine appropriate next steps,” Casares said. “Staff are subject to discipline, up to and including employment termination, as a result of these such instances.”

Just last week, Democratic Senator 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.

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 illegally through the U.S.-Mexico border.