Migrant children report sex assault, retaliation for protests at border facility

Migrant children report sex assault, retaliation for protests at border facility
© Getty Images

Dozens of migrant children held at a crowded Arizona border station have reported allegations of sexual assault and retaliation for protests, NBC News reports.

A 15-year-old girl from Honduras said a large, bearded officer put his hands inside her bra, pulled down her underwear and groped her in front of other immigrants and officers during what was supposed to be a routine pat down, NBC News reported, citing dozens of migrant children’s accounts collected by government case managers.

The girl reported feeling “embarrassed as the officer was speaking in English to other officers and laughing,” the outlet notes.

ADVERTISEMENT

In another case, a 16-year-old Guatemalan boy being held in Yuma, Ariz., said he and his cellmates complained about the taste of the food and water they were given and, as a result, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents took away their mats and forced them to sleep on concrete.

Officers would scold detained children when they got close to a window, sometimes calling them offensive terms in Spanish, a 17-year-old boy from Honduras recounted.

Migrant children who were recently detained in CBP facilities have also drawn pictures of themselves in cages since being released from custody.

The Trump administration has continued to face scrutiny for its hard-line immigration policies, as well as reports of unsanitary conditions and a lack of resources at migrant detention centers.

The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General released a report last week that outlined "dangerous overcrowding" and "prolonged detention of children and adults" at border facilities in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

Accounts of kids at the Arizona facility reported similar circumstances.

Lawmakers, including Rep. Norma TorresNorma Judith TorresOur commitment to veterans can help us lead for all Americans Let's provide help to college students struggling to meet their day-to-day needs Restore controls over dangerous gun exports MORE (D-Calif.), have slammed migrant detention centers for their “inhumane conditions” and called for border agents to be retrained.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes MORE has pushed back on the accounts, tweeting that "The Fake News Media, in particular the Failing @nytimes, is writing phony and exaggerated accounts of the Border Detention Centers.”

Congress passed a $4.6 billion emergency border funding bill last month that aims to provide humanitarian aid and address the influx of migrants.

The Hill has reached out to CBP for comment.