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Federal contractor admits to holding migrant kids at Phoenix building

(KTAR News/Griselda Zetino)

PHOENIX — A federal contractor terminated its lease at an office building in Phoenix after an investigation revealed that migrant children were being illegally housed in the unlicensed facility after being separated from their parents at the Arizona-Mexico border.

Phoenix City Councilwoman Kate Gallego announced that MVM, Inc., a U.S. defense contractor, canceled its lease near 20th Street and Osborn Road, less than one week after an investigation by the Center for Investigative Reporting found the building was not licensed to hold children in Arizona.

“The Center for Investigative Reporting revealed that the ICE contractor kept children overnight at this building,” Gallego said during a Thursday press conference.

“This contracts their earlier statements and violates their occupancy permit with the city of Phoenix.”

Neighbors near the facility contacted the media after they saw vans bringing children to the facility, which sparked the investigation.

A spokesperson for MVM told the Center for Investigative Reporting the building was intended to hold children for a few hours before they were flown out to other locations.

“The bottom line is the ICE contractor lied about how they were using the building, but they have admitted that lie, they terminated this lease and no child will be kept unsafely here again,” Gallego said.

Elizabeth Berry, a spokeswoman for Gov. Doug Ducey, said in an email to KTAR News 92.3 FM that the governor’s office “has not received any official complaints” regarding the facility.

“Our office has instructed [Arizona Department of Health Services] to monitor this situation closely to ensure child and public safety comes first,” Berry said.

Ducey told KTAR News 92.3 FM earlier this week that his office is “doing our responsibility — when we receive a complaint that something in the state’s preview, we follow up immediately.”

Officials with the Arizona Department of Health Services told KTAR News 92.3 FM that they tried to enter the building on Monday, but it was locked, empty and unoccupied.

Gallego also said that MVM is “revising their policies and procedures that allowed for this practice to occur.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ali Vetnar, Martha Maurer and Griselda Zetino contributed to this report. 

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