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Child Immigration Facility That Melania Trump Visited Has Been Accused Of Molesting A 14-Year-Old Girl

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A worker at a nonprofit organization that houses immigrant children separated from their parents at the border has been booked on suspicion of molesting a 14-year-old girl at its one of its facilities in Phoenix, police said Wednesday. Southwest Key, which operates the facility, declined to say whether the 14-year-old girl was an immigrant who was separated from her parents at the border.

Fernando Magaz Negrete kissed and fondled the girl in her bedroom at the facility on June 27 in an encounter witnessed by the girl’s 16-year-old roommate, police said. They said surveillance video shows Magaz Negrete, 32, approaching the bedroom several times throughout the night, though the bedroom itself was outside the camera’s view.

“When a child tells us of inappropriate behavior, we immediately call law enforcement and start an internal investigation as appropriate,” Southwest Key spokesman Jeff Eller said. “That’s what happened in this case. Southwest Key always works with law enforcement to bring the full force of the law to bear when it is warranted.”

The nonprofit said it has fired Magaz Negrete.

Worker Accused of Molesting Teen at Child Immigration Facility in Phoenix

Fernando Magaz Negrete, 32, is accused of kissing and inappropriately touching a 14-year-old girl staying at a nonprofit organization that houses immigrant children in west Phoenix. During a court appearance Tuesday, Magaz Negrete, an employee at the facility, asked the judge, “Who is bringing up these charges?”

(Published 2 hours ago)

The facility where the alleged abuse occurred was visited on June 28 by first lady Melania Trump, who met with people directly affected by her husband’s hard-line immigration policies.

Shelters that house immigrant children have come under scrutiny since the Trump administration introduced a “zero tolerance” policy toward illegal entries that has led to the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The news website ProPublica published a report in late July saying police responded to at least 125 calls reporting sex offenses at shelters that primarily serve immigrant children since 2014. The ProPublica report detailed a 2015 incident at a Tucson, Arizona, shelter operated by Southwest Key in which authorities said an employee touched a 15-year-old Honduran boy’s penis from outside his clothing. The worker was fired and later convicted of molestation.

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Magaz Negrete was booked Tuesday on suspicion of child molestation, sexual abuse and aggravated assault. Efforts to find an attorney for Magaz Negrete through court records and from a court official were unsuccessful.

Magaz Negrete made a brief court appearance Tuesday night, asking the court commissioner who presided over the bond hearing, “Who is bringing up these charges?”

Court Commissioner Tracy Nadzieja responded that Magaz Negrete’s court-appointed attorney will explain the allegations against him at some point in the future.

Shelters Where Immigrant Children Are Housed

After the Trump administration began separating migrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border, questions arose about the shelters where the children were being kept.

This map shows the location of 87 child-care facilities housing children seized from their parents and other children who crossed the border without an adult or unaccompanied immigrant minors. Foster-care agencies are not included.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement has custody of about 12,000 children in all, about 2,000 of them taken under President Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy. In June, Trump signed an executive order reversing the policy of separating families, and his administration is now under court order to reunite them.

About half of children under 5 have been returned to their parents under court order, as of July 12. But the others remain separated for a variety of reasons, among them because their parents have been deported or the administration has raised safety concerns.

Older children must be reunited with their parents by July 26.

The resettlement agency has paid companies in 18 states $3.4 billion since 2014 to house the children, with grants awarded under the “Unaccompanied Alien Children Program.” The funding information comes from the federal Department of Health and Human Services’ “Tracking Accountability in Government Grants System,” according to The Associated Press.

The data for the map was obtained by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting and has been updated in Texas by The Texas Tribune with information from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Reveal received the information through a freedom of information request for information on all facilities that housed children under the supervision of the Office of Refugee Resettlement as of June 2017. It modified its original list with additional federal data.

The map shows the capacity number of children that each facility was contracted to house as of June 2017. Shelters can receive variances to increase their capacity. NBC New York

 

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