FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PHOENIX State Capitol – Democratic lawmakers today pressed state officials to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of detained immigrant children after the Department of Health Services moved to revoke the licenses of 13 Southwest Key shelters this week. Democrats had been pushing Governor Ducey for months to investigate and inspect the shelters, and finally saw a response when it was revealed in August that an employee at a Mesa Southwest Key facility had been accused of sexually abusing eight boys and had no required background check.
"We are happy that DHS changed its position on using its authority to regulate these controversial facilities and is now enforcing the law," said Rep. Diego Espinoza, D-Tolleson. "We fundamentally disagree with the Trump Administration's decision to separate asylum-seeking children from their parents at the border. But our state government should at least make sure those children are safe and free from abuse if they are going to be held in Arizona."
Rep. Kelli Butler, D-Phoenix, who has helped lead the push for inspections and state oversight of the facilities, added, "Our members have been pushing the Governor and state regulators throughout the summer to take action. Now that they have, our focus must remain on the safety and long-term wellbeing of these children. Our members will remain vigilant as DHS takes its next steps."
Background on next steps according to DHS: Southwest Key has the right to request a hearing before the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearings and to have an Administrative Law Judge review the Notice to Revoke. They have 30 calendar days after the Notice to Revoke was received to request a hearing and to respond. If they request a hearing, they may also request that the Department hold an informal settlement conference. If they choose to not request a hearing, the revocation of their license will be automatically effective immediately upon the expiration of the 30-day period following receipt of the Notice.