Immigrant Children At Arizona Border Camps Described Being Sexually & Mentally Abused By CBP
Dozens of detainees at a migrant camp in Arizona have reported incidents of sexual assault and abuse by Customs and Border Protection agents as the national outrage over the treatment of migrants at these centers continue to grow.
In reports collected by government case managers and obtained by NBC news, several children have described being forced to live in inhumane and cruel conditions. A 15-year-old Honduran girl told government officials that a large, bearded officer shoved his hand into her bra, pulled down her underwear, and groped her as part of what should have been a routine pat-down. The girl stated that “she felt embarrassed as the officer was speaking in English to other officers and laughing,” according to a report of her account.
A 16-year-old Guatemalan boy being held in Yuma, Arizona, said he and his cellmates complained about the taste of the food and water that they were given, and in retaliation the CBP officers removed the sleeping mats from the cell, forcing the children to lie on the cold, hard concrete all night.
Federal investigators in Texas found that many of the CBP detention centers were unsanitary and inadequate, describing how children were forced to live in squalid conditions. Democratic House lawmakers who visited the Texas centers reported similar overcrowding, sparking nationwide outrage over the treatment of migrants. The Department of Homeland Security urgently begged Congress to allocate it more funding to deal with the crisis at the border, resulting in the passage of $4.5 billion emergency package.
Even after the relief bill was signed into law, detainees still reported abusive treatment from their overseers. In nearly 30 accounts of “significant incident reports” prepared by case managers from the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency responsible for immigrant children once they left CBP custody, federal officers at the border enforced harsh conditions independent from a lack of funding or overcrowding. Children who spent time in the Yuma, Arizona, camp described being denied phone calls, refused showers, and not being served dinner until many of them were already asleep. All the children who gave accounts to case managers were held longer than the 72-hour limit permitted by law.