Neighbors, former employees say immigrant juveniles escape Baytown-area facility

Once an elementary school, the building on Ilfrey Street is now operating in Harris County as a holding facility for undocumented immigrant children, almost entirely off the public radar since 2010.

"I've seen them climbing over the fences at night time," said Gregory Dawson, a longtime resident of the Lynchburg neighborhood. "They came in my yard many a time. I've seen them hiding."

Dawson also said he can bear witness that many of the undocumented children who brought to the facility simply cut and run.

"Up to twenty or more -- and that's just the ones I've seen," added Dawson.

Resident Nadine Goodney said she has feared for her grandchildren's safety ever since Baptist Children and Family Services quietly invaded her neighborhood during President Barack Obama's administration.

"Who is to say that these people aren't going to get out of there, attack them, steal them, kill them, rob them?," asked Goodney. "I don't know what's going to happen at night time."

"I said, 'This is our neighborhood and we got kids,' and they said, 'This ain't your neighborhood any longer,'" described Dawson, speaking of his interaction with BCFS employees.

Speaking exclusively and anonymously to FOX 26 News, two former BCFS workers offered detailed, inside knowledge of the highly-secret shelter.

"When I was employed there, I know of three escapes and once they are over that fence, we cannot touch them," said one of the former employees.

Both of the former BCFS workers confirmed witnessing violence among the mostly Central American teenagers under detention.

"Some that were gang affiliated, some that were here because they were running from gangs," said a former worker who believes a significant number of detained juveniles were dangerous.

The former BCFS workers also confirmed alarming rates of disease among the detainees with little or no ongoing official oversight from state or local inspectors.

"Some of them had TB," said a former BCFS employee. "We had to walk around the facility with masks on. A lot of scabies. Sexually-transmitted diseases, like I said, the scabies was a big thing there and the protective stuff they told you to wear, you just didn't feel safe with that because you still have to go home to your family."

Both former workers believe the facility should be shut down.

"Somebody is getting rich behind this," said one of the former employees. "That's why they hated it when they ran away."

After FOX 26 News reached out for comment to the San Antonio-based Baptist Child and Family Services, the public information officer for the group released the following statement:

FOX 26 also contacted the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, but that organization has not responded.