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Migrant children pushed and dragged at shelter

An Arizona migrant shelter is under investigation after surveillance video surfaced showing staffers push and drag children inside the facility.

Posted: Jan 2, 2019 1:27 PM
Updated: Jan 2, 2019 2:12 PM

A case regarding the alleged abuse of migrant children in a Southwest Key shelter will be referred Monday to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office for review and to determine whether criminal charges will be filed, authorities in Arizona said.

The news comes after the Arizona Republic first obtained surveillance videos through an open records request that show staffers pushing and dragging migrant children in a shelter operated by Southwest Key, the nation's largest provider of migrant children shelters.

According to the newspaper, the incidents took place at the Hacienda Del Sol shelter in Youngtown in mid-September and involved three children and numerous staffers.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office initially told CNN it investigated the allegations and determined the actions did not rise to the level of criminal charges.

But the office changed its mind and said in an updated statement released Sunday: "Based upon the evidence gathered during this thorough investigation, MCSO executive command has made the decision to submit the case to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office for its review and determination of criminal charges."

Amanda Steele, a spokeswoman with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office said once the case is submitted by police, prosecutors may decide to file charges if they have "evidence to establish a reasonable likelihood of a conviction."

"This standard ensures we do not needlessly charge persons we cannot prove are guilty of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt," she said.

She added the immigration status of any victims will have "absolutely no bearing on any charging decision."

Videos show staff members shoving, dragging children

Southwest Key closed the Hacienda Del Sol facility in late October after negotiations with state health authorities, who were considering revoking the licenses of 13 Southwest Key shelters in Arizona.

CNN previously reported the Arizona Department of Health Services considered the move because Southwest Key had failed to provide the department with proof that it conducts background checks on employees.

The videos were blurred and edited by the state's Department of Health Services, which licenses the migrant shelters.

One clip published by the Arizona Republic shows a male staffer dragging a young child into the room and pushing him against the wall. There appears to be a confrontation between the two before the male staffer leaves the room.

Another video shows a female staff member pulling a child through the room and attempting to enter another room.

The child lies on the ground and the female staffer drags the child through the doorway as another staff member pulls a different child into the conference room and drags that child into the next room.

Two staffers fired, source says

Southwest Key declined to comment on the referral of the case.

Spokesman Jeff Eller told CNN that the company self-reported to the Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and local police at the time the events occurred.

After an internal investigation, two staff members were fired and additional disciplinary measures were taken against other staffers, said a source with direct knowledge of how the incidents in the videos were handled.

The Arizona Department of Health Services confirmed to CNN that it did receive a report about the incident in mid-September and that it prompted an investigation and on-site inspection.

"During an informal settlement conference, both parties agreed to the terms of a settlement agreement, including the surrender of two licenses, along with other provisions to ensure the health and safety of children under SWK care," the agency said in a statement Monday. "The facility where these videos were taken is no longer in operation, due to the surrender of the license."

In October, Eller said Southwest Key "wholeheartedly welcomed the Office of Refugee Resettlement's decision to suspend operations at Hacienda Del Sol and are working to thoroughly retrain our staff. We are simultaneously engaging the Child Welfare Consulting Partnership to do an independent, top to bottom review of our processes, procedures, hiring and training in our Arizona shelters."

An HHS spokesperson said the agency focuses on the safety and best interest of each child.

"These are vulnerable children in difficult circumstances, and ORR exercises its custodial responsibility for each child with the utmost care," the spokesperson said. "When any allegations of abuse or neglect are made they are taken seriously, investigated and swift action is taken."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 293542

Reported Deaths: 6638
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19560229
Hinds18674385
Harrison16512276
Rankin12595262
Jackson12451217
Lee9663160
Madison9400195
Jones7891145
Forrest7140136
Lauderdale6784225
Lowndes6008137
Lamar584480
Lafayette5707113
Washington5159128
Bolivar4594120
Oktibbeha439991
Panola426892
Pearl River4116128
Warren4114113
Pontotoc407368
Marshall399492
Monroe3980126
Union392873
Neshoba3767166
Lincoln3464100
Hancock339973
Leflore3358118
Sunflower317185
Tate300874
Pike298393
Scott292567
Alcorn290360
Itawamba288871
Yazoo283862
Tippah275665
Copiah274557
Coahoma272766
Simpson271778
Prentiss268658
Leake251770
Wayne251340
Marion250778
Covington247878
Grenada245876
Adams233277
George230645
Newton224751
Winston220275
Jasper211844
Tishomingo211765
Attala206269
Chickasaw200650
Holmes181670
Clay178149
Stone171429
Tallahatchie169839
Clarke168671
Calhoun156428
Smith151831
Yalobusha142936
Greene126833
Walthall123540
Noxubee122729
Perry121434
Montgomery121237
Lawrence119321
Carroll117623
Amite110832
Webster109929
Jefferson Davis100531
Tunica98623
Claiborne97729
Benton93124
Humphreys91626
Kemper89522
Quitman77014
Franklin75519
Choctaw69516
Wilkinson62226
Jefferson61427
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 491110

Reported Deaths: 9831
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson706291356
Mobile35894721
Madison32255442
Tuscaloosa23996409
Montgomery22462494
Shelby21820215
Baldwin19670274
Lee14900150
Morgan13599249
Calhoun13175285
Etowah13143319
Marshall11226206
Houston10048259
Elmore9337183
Limestone9335134
Cullman8869179
St. Clair8783220
Lauderdale8581210
DeKalb8429174
Talladega7481163
Walker6504251
Jackson6477102
Autauga620389
Blount6086125
Colbert5978118
Coffee5230102
Dale4621106
Russell401831
Franklin397876
Covington3956106
Chilton384298
Escambia377172
Tallapoosa3572141
Clarke342949
Dallas3397141
Chambers3392108
Pike293071
Lawrence281384
Marion280894
Winston246166
Bibb244260
Geneva238670
Marengo233354
Pickens223954
Barbour209951
Hale208868
Fayette199756
Butler195165
Henry182041
Cherokee176438
Monroe165938
Randolph163140
Washington156634
Crenshaw143554
Clay143354
Macon140943
Cleburne136839
Lamar131732
Lowndes130648
Wilcox120825
Bullock116336
Conecuh106523
Perry105327
Sumter98431
Coosa87823
Greene87032
Choctaw54823
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