BENSON — One of the unaccompanied immigrant minors being housed in a VisionQuest facility in Benson escaped around 10 a.m. Thursday.
“The Benson Police Department apprehended him right away, within minutes after he escaped,” said Carol Keller, chief operations officer of the VisionQuest shelter in Benson, which is housing 13 foreign national male juveniles, 12 to 17 years of age. “Because this was an escape, ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is involved, and he will be handed over to ICE officials,” she said.
While Keller could not provide more information about the juvenile, she did say she is grateful to Benson PD for “their responsiveness in apprehending” the minor.
Benson Police Chief Paul Moncada said the juvenile scaled the fence surrounding VisionQuest and his officers found him on Interstate 10.
“The juvenile was not arrested,” he said. “Per VisionQuest policy, they cannot take him back after he left the facility, so ICE had to be contacted so they could take the subject. A Benson police officer stayed with him at VisionQuest until ICE picked him up.”
After learning about the incident, Benson Mayor Joe Konrad said concern over potential escapees has come up numerous times from Benson residents.
Because of COVID-19, all new arrivals go through a 14-day quarantine period before they’re released from the short-term shelter. However, that 14-day safety net did not happen in this case, which raises a potential exposure concern, Konrad said.
“I really want to thank the police department for being on top of this and apprehending him so quickly,” the mayor said.
This story is breaking. The Herald/Review will provide more information when available.