A new report alleges that U.S. Border Patrol agents are retailing against migrant children behind the walls of detention centers. NBC News spoke to detained kids and their case managers who say that agents are abusing them in several ways, including sexual abuse and taking away the little that they have. These allegations specify the abuse took place at a detention center in Yuma, Arizona.
One teen girl said an agent was doing a routine pat-down, but he took it a step further and violated her by putting his hands inside of her shirt and bra. H also pulled down her underwear and touched her in inappropriate ways. The news organization reported: “The girl said ‘she felt embarrassed as the officer was speaking in English to other officers and laughing’ during the entire process.”
Another teen boy, held at the same detention center said that after he complained about water and food, the agents removed their sleeping mats which meant they had to sleep on the concrete.
Remember the derogatory @CBP FB group? Now we're learning they are sexually assaulting vulnerable migrant children in their care.
— RAICES (@RAICESTEXAS) July 10, 2019
“The children that we represent have reported being held in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions for days,” Laura Belous, a lawyer for some of the detained children, said to NBC News. “Our clients tell us that they have seen CBP agents kick other children awake, that children do not know whether it’s day or night because lights are left on all the time and that they have had food thrown at them like they were wild animals.” She adds, “our clients and all migrants deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”
Other abuses that the children reported include being called derogatory names by the agents, having to sleep outside in wet clothes, and if there was no room to sleep on the concrete, they had to remain standing up.
In response to these allegations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection told NBC News that the agency “treats those in our custody with dignity and respect and provides multiple avenues to report any allegations of misconduct. … The allegations do not align with common practice at our facilities and will be fully investigated. It’s important to note that the allegation of sexual assault is already under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General.”
We know, however, that abuse inside detention centers has been rampant for a while now. Last year, we told you about a detention worker who was fired after children reported that he had been sexually abusing a teen girl. It’s no secret that the border patrol is short-staffed and are hiring people without proper background checks.