El Salvador says migrant children detained by US government were sexually abused at shelters

El Salvador says migrant children detained by US government were sexually abused at shelters
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Salvadoran officials said on Thursday that they have received reports of three minors being sexually abused in shelters in Arizona after being separated from their parents as a result of the Trump administration’s controversial “zero tolerance” policy.

Liduvina Magarin, deputy foreign relations minister for Salvadorans overseas, said Salvadoran authorities received word of the alleged abuse of the migrant kids at the hands of staffers at unnamed shelters, The Associated Press reported on Friday.

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The children are between the ages of 12 and 17 years old, the AP said. It is not clear what access El Salvador had to the children, who are still detained in the U.S.

“They are sexual violations, sexual abuses, that is what this is about,” Magarin said in a quote obtained by the news agency.      

Magarin also said her government is providing the minors’ families with lawyers should they choose to take legal action.

The relationship between the U.S. and El Salvador is already strained. Republicans have pushed to cut foreign aid to the country after it sided switched diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China.

The accusations come a day after a filing from the Justice Department and American Civil Liberties Union showed that 497 children remain in U.S. government custody.

A federal judge originally set a deadline of July 26 for the Trump administration to reunite families it separated at the border, but as of that date 711 children still had not been reunited with their families.

Magarin said the Salvadoran government is pressuring the Trump administration to reunify the three minors with their families, while adding that though the kids are in good health now, the "psychological and emotional impact is forever, and we are attending to that situation.”

“May they leave the shelters as soon as possible, because it is there that they are the most vulnerable,” Magarin said.

She added that once the minors are reunited with their families the government will be offering them psychological assistance.

She also urged the U.S. authorities to respect due process and said “they have acted in accordance with the law.”