Southwest Key application accepted by state to operate children's detention facility in Houston

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A center for immigrant children in Houston is one step closer to becoming a reality at 419 Emancipation, pending a state inspection.

State Senator Sylvia Garcia's office said Tuesday that Southwest Key has been approved to open the immigrant children's center by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

The commission, however, said it does not characterize the development as "getting a permit," but that Southwest Key's completed application equips them to move forward with the next phase.

Before the controversial center can open its doors, the state has 21 days to do an inspection. Those are unrelated to the City of Houston inspections still pending.

We do not know the exact date of when the state will conduct its inspection.

News of the proposed center drew support and opposition in Houston, with Mayor Sylvester Turner leading the charge against its opening.

Turner and other elected officials opposed the facility after policy enacted by President Donald Trump led to the separation of families at the Texas border.

Dr. Juan Sanchez, CEO of Southwest Keys, told ABC13 last week that the facility is not a detention center, but a state-licensed "childcare facility."
EMBED More News Videos

Southwest Keys CEO speaks out about possible children's immigration center in Houston

EMBED More News Videos

Southwest Keys CEO speaks about immigration children's facility in Houston

Officials say up to 240 children will be housed at the center, some being unaccompanied minors who have crossed the border alone, while others were separated from their parents.

State records show Southwest Keys already operates 15 similar facilities across the state of Texas, five in the greater Houston area.
Copyright © 2019 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.