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Virginia gov orders probe of abuse claims made by migrant teens at detention facility

Virginia gov orders probe of abuse claims made by migrant teens at detention facility
© Greg Nash

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Thursday directed state officials to investigate allegations that immigrant teens were abused at a state detention facility.

Northam said he's asked the state's Department of Public Safety and Homeland Security and the state Department of Juvenile Justice to look into allegations that the individuals were beaten and placed in solitary confinement.

The governor noted that the facility where the alleged abuse took place is subject to state oversight, but the individuals housed there are subject to oversight from the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.

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"If Virginia public safety officials find evidence of abuse or mistreatment at this facility, my administration will do everything we can to ensure the safety of these children," Northam tweeted.

Northam’s call for an investigation follows an Associated Press report published earlier Thursday that detailed a lawsuit in which several young immigrants claimed they were physically abused at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center.

The center’s attorneys have denied the physical assault accusations, the AP reported.

The report comes amid growing outcry over the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy on illegal immigration, which has led to the separation of thousands of migrant children from their parents. Trump has since signed an executive order to halt the separations.

However, the immigrants in the lawsuit were not detained as part of that program. The majority of the children held at the Virginia facility tried crossing the southern border by themselves unlawfully, the AP reported.