Three migrant teens missing from shelter at Freeman Expo Center, federal officials confirm

Teens left during the week of April 12

WATCH: Buses transporting migrant children from Rio Grande Valley arrive at Freeman Coliseum Expo Hall

SAN ANTONIO – Three migrant teens are missing from the shelter at the Freeman Expo Center, an official with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services confirmed on Tuesday.

The teens left the shelter at some point during the week of April 12 and are still unaccounted for.

“As a child welfare agency, HHS does not run detention facilities and force is not used on children in ORR care,” said Kathy Crosby, who is deployed to HHS as an External Affairs Officer. “On rare occasions, youth leave the shelters without permission. In each circumstance, authorities are notified, children are usually found and returned, and, then typically transferred to another facility.”

A fourth teen was reported missing the morning of April 16, but he was found on the premises after moving to a different cot in the facility, Crosby said.

“Consistent with federal law, ORR places children in our care in the least restrictive setting that is in the best interest of the child, taking into account potential flight risk and danger to self and others,” Crosby said.

Crosby said she would not discuss individual cases to protect the privacy and security of the unaccompanied children.

“These incidents have been reviewed and improvements have been made to ensure the safety and security of the children at the San Antonio Emergency Intake Site (EIS),” Crosby said.

There are currently about 1,810 children at the San Antonio migrant shelter. The Freeman Expo Center has the capacity to house about 2,100 youth, with another 300 medical beds.

The shelter is one of more than 200 in 22 states. As of April 24, there were approximately 21,956 children in the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).

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Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 20 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.