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Staffers beat, drag migrant kids in detention facility

AZCentral

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A newly released video shows staffers beating and forcefully dragging children across the floor at an immigrant detention center in Arizona.

In one video, taken at Southwest Key’s Hacienda Del Sol facility in Youngtown and shared by the Arizona Republic, a man is seen dragging a child into the room by his hair, beating him, and cornering him to the other side of the room against another door. The child appears to defend himself, and the man then pushes him away from the door and walks out.

In another video, two staffers are seen, separately, each dragging a child into the room. In both cases, each child appears to be unwilling to go, wherever they’re being taken, through the other door. Also, in both cases, when the child tries to resist being taken and tries to stay behind, the staffer drags them across the floor.

Southwest Key is a private detention agency that has 26 migrant children’s shelters across the country and has received millions from the federal government over the years for their work hosting migrant children. The non-profit was slated to receive $458 million from the federal government for housing children this year alone.

The incident reportedly took place in September. The Hacienda Del Sol facility was closed in October, as part of an agreement with the Arizona Department of Health Services, which required it to close two of its Phoenix shelters and pay a fine. However, it is not clear if the shelter was closed due to this incident.

Southwest Key came under intense scrutiny this summer following reports of overcrowding, child sexual abuse by employees, and employees failing basic background checks at some of its facilities, like staffer Ernesto Padron, who had previously been arrested for child porn.

The video from Hacienda Del Sol comes at a particularly crucial time, following two deaths of migrant children within weeks while in U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) custody. Both children were from Guatemala and had shown symptoms of illness before they died. 

Samira Sadeque

Samira Sadeque

Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque