FOX 26 reveals private detention center for immigrant children in Harris County

- Not far from where the federal government oversees tons of toxic waste on the San Jacinto River, you will find another storage facility --  a building which once served as Lynchburg Elementary School, transformed into a detention center for undocumented children.

"They are not very free with their information about how many kids or what's going on," said Debra Nissen, who lives across the street.

Turns out, this facility in east Harris County has very quietly housed thousands of juvenile, unaccompanied immigrants and it's been going on for years.

While it's operated by a nonprofit under government contract known as Baptist Children and Family Services, American taxpayers are clearly picking up the tab.

And make no mistake, no one inside, is getting outside, without permission.

"I know facilities like this, there is a need, but why in a residential neighborhood? Why all the security? Why all the confidentiality?" asked Gloria O'Bannon who also lives across the street from the BCFS complex.

For the past eight years, O'Bannon has watched as unmarked white vans loaded with kids, discreetly arrive and depart. Given the dozens of cars parked by employees, she believes hundreds of immigrant children are housed within.

"You'd like to know who your neighbors are, but we don't have that luxury," said O'Bannon.

Nissen says she rarely sees the children, but often here's their voices as they playing soccer beyond the hedges and fencing.

"I do know they speak Spanish, because I hear it. We were told it was a government place for illegal children who had come over on trains or boats that had no parents and so they are holding them for three months," said Nissen, who believes it's all a terrible waste of tax dollars.

"It's a mess. I don't think it's fair that these kids get their teeth done and get free food and all this stuff free and we have kids around here that don't get all that stuff."

Baptist Children and Family Services declined comment, referring FOX 26 to the U.S. Department of Health and Human services.

HHS has yet to respond to our phone calls and e-mails.

A number of current and former Harris County officials said they were unaware of the facility's existence until FOX 26's report.

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