Authorities have confirmed that a 15-year-old body has run away from the Casa Padre Processing Facility in Brownsville.
The Brownsville Police Department says the 15-year-old ran away around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Authorities tell us they discovered his disappearance during a welfare check. The child has been entered into a national database so if he is found, authorities will know who the child is.
Prior to the child leaving the facility, authorities were in contact with an individual in Dallas who claimed to be the child’s father, a source told CNN. While attempting to reunite the child and “father,” it was discovered this man may not in fact have been the boy’s biological father, the source stated. While authorities were trying to determine the man’s relationship to the boy, the 15-year-old left the facility.
A source tells CNN that the facility is not allowed to restrain children if they decide to leave the facility. As soon as the children walk across the care facility property line, they become a missing child under the jurisdiction of the local police department, by law. The source also stated to CNN that Southwest Keys is not a detention facility and can’t detain children. It’s a childcare facility. The source added that it’s unclear if the children in the care facility are aware they can leave the facility at any time. Once the child leaves, according to the source, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is notified.
Over 19,000 children have been cared for by Southwest Keys this fiscal year and less than 50 children have chosen to leave the care centers alone, the source said.
The “father” was informed the child left the facility, according to the source that spoke with CNN. Within the last two hours, the “father” said the 15-year-old called him and said he was back in Mexico after going across the river. The child is getting money from his “father” to travel back to Honduras, the source stated.
“I can tell you he’s alive,” the source told CNN about the 15-year-old.
There’s no word if the 15-year-old was a child that was separated from their parents.
CNN reporter Dianne Gallagher tweeted a statement that they received from the Southwest Key Program on Sunday afternoon.
“As a licensed child care center, if a child attempts to leave any of our facilities, we cannot restrain them. We are not a detention center,” the program said. “We talk to them and try to get them to stay. If they leave the property, we call law enforcement.”