6-year-old girl sexually abused while being held in Arizona detention facility: report
A 6-year-old migrant girl who was separated from her mother under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy was reportedly sexually abused while she was detained in an immigrant detention facility in Arizona.
According to a report published by The Nation on Friday, a young girl was allegedly sexually abused by an older child who also was being held at the Phoenix-area detention facility, Casa Glendale.
The girl, identified as D.L., was reportedly advised to sign a form in June saying that she was told to keep her distance from the boy who allegedly abused her.
The Nation obtained and published the document from Southwest Key Program, the center’s operator, which said the girl had “presented sexually inappropriate behavior since about a week.” The document shows the letter “D” on the signature line next to the words “tender age.”
Southwest Key Program, a nonprofit that is contracted by the federal government, operates 26 immigrant shelter facilities for immigrant children across the U.S.
According to the report, the child and her mother entered the U.S. on May 24 at a port of entry in El Paso, Texas, to escape gang violence in Guatemala.
Two days after arriving in the country, the mother and daughter were reportedly separated under the Trump administration’s zero tolerance immigration policy, which led to the separation of thousands of migrant families before President Trump reversed the mandate in an executive order.
After being separated from her mother, the outlet reported that D.L. was sent to Casa Glendale, where the alleged abuse occurred.
The Nation reported that the girl’s mother had given authorities the phone number of D.L.’s father, an undocumented immigrant living in California.
On June 11, D.L.’s father reportedly first received a phone call from Southwest Key staff informing him that his daughter and other girls had been touched inappropriately by a boy at the detention facility.
A family spokesperson told the publication that D.L.’s father was instructed by the staff not to be concerned by the alleged abuse because the operator was changing protocols to ensure similar incidents would not be repeated.
The spokesperson also said the girl’s father requested to speak with a social worker over the alleged incident but never heard from one, despite repeated promises from the facility.
The day after D.L.’s father was contacted, the girl was reportedly advised to sign a form stating that she had been told to “maintain my distance from the other youth involved.”
The Nation reported that the alleged abused continued and the girl’s father was contacted again on June 22 by Southwest Key staff, who said D.L. was fondled again and hit by the same boy.
According to the report, D.L.’s father asked the Southwest Key staff member how such abuse was allowed to continue. The woman then reportedly told the father that she was unable to provide him with any details apart from informing him that the incident had occurred.
D.L.’s family was reportedly reunited through the work of Families Belong Together, a coalition of civil rights advocacy groups.
It is unclear if the family is considering taking further legal action.
The Nation noted that a woman who answered its call to Southwest Key told the publication she was not allowed to speak with the press. The outlets other requests for comment have been unanswered.
According to the publication, the Department of Health and Human Services, which contracts with Southwest Key, did not respond to a request for comment.
The report came one day after the Trump administration declared that it met its court-ordered deadline to reunite more than 2,500 migrant children who had been separated from their parents under the administration’s immigration policy.
The administration also identified 1,634 parents eligible for reunification with their children, out of a possible 2,551 children ages 5 and up in custody on Thursday. The administration said that out of the parents still in the country, more than 900 are already facing a final order of deportation.
Another 711 children remain in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services’s (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement after it was determined their parents are either not eligible for reunification or are unavailable.