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Second Phoenix facility illegally housing migrant children discovered

(KTAR News/Griselda Zetino)

PHOENIX — A little more than a week after a Phoenix office building was found to have been illegally housing migrant children, another building was discovered.

The second office building that was housing migrant children without having the proper license is near 20th Street and Indian School Road in Phoenix, less than a mile from the facility first discovered last week.

Both facilities are run by a company called MVM, Inc., which contracts with the federal government. The company told the Center for Investigative Reporting that it had housed migrant children overnight in both facilities.

“I remember about 10 days ago saying, ‘How do we know there isn’t another facility like this somewhere in Phoenix? How many more are there? Where are they taking these kids?” Senate Assistant Minority Leader Steve Farley said at a press conference Wednesday outside the second Phoenix office building.

“We found another place,” he added. “It’s right here behind us.”

(KTAR News/Griselda Zetino)

The building on 20th Street and Indian School Road appeared to be empty on Wednesday. But children had been seen coming in and out of there dating back to 2016.

Most recently, children were seen bathing themselves in sinks in a men’s bathroom shared by three offices, according to an insurance executive who spoke with the Center of Investigative Reporting.

Like the first office building, this second one has dark tinted windows, no outdoor playground and is near a busy street. Neither building appear to be licensed to hold children in Arizona.

Last week, the Arizona Department of Health Services said in a statement to KTAR News 92.3 FM that surveyors conducted an onsite investigation at the first building. The surveyors weren’t able to verify the building is operating as an unlicensed child care facility.

“Upon arrival, ADHS surveyors encountered a locked, empty and unoccupied building,” the statement from last week read. “ADHS will continue to monitor all unlicensed child care complaints and is committed to ensuring children are in appropriate and safe care.”

On Wednesday, Farley said he’d like ADHS to conduct another investigation at this new location and report the findings to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office or the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

“That’s the only way I think we’re going to get this to stop,” he said.

State Reps. Kelli Butler and Kirsten Engel are also calling for an investigation of the facilities. They sent a letter to ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ on Wednesday asking for an investigation “of MVM’s pattern and practice of using inadequate and unlicensed facilities as de facto child care facilities in our state.”

In a statement to KTAR News 92.3 FM, ADHS said on Wednesday it had “not received a formal complaint about this facility, but is taking proactive measures to fully investigate the reports of unlicensed child care at this location.”

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