Friday, June 13, 2014

Complaint Filed With DHS For Widespread Systematic Appalling Abuse Of Undocumented Children By CBP Agents

Photos courtesy of Breitbart News Network

Photos taken in May 2014 were leaked from a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility in Rio Grande, Texas. The White House has confirmed that an estimated 90,000 children will be deported this year and some have been released to family members in the country. But all undocumented children detained at border towns are being processed for deportation.

Administrative complaint seeks reform and accountability for CBP agents in widespread abuse, including sexual inappropriate touching of children private parts in strip searches and lack of medical treatment.

By H. Nelson Goodson
June 13, 2014

Phoenix, Arizona - On Wednesday, the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), the ACLU Border Litigation Project, Americans for Immigrant Justice (AI Justice), Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project (Esperanza), and the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project (Florence Project) filed a joint administrative complaint with the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties as well as the DHS Office of Inspector General. The complaint emphasizes that abuses of unaccompanied children by immigration officials have been documented and reported to DHS for years, but the government has not implemented reforms or taken any action to hold agents accountable, the ACLU in Arizona (ACLU-AZ) reported.
The complaint was filed on behave of an estimated 116 children. The U.S. Custom and Border Protection (CBP) agents along the U.S. and Mexico border are accused of appalling abuses that have taken place for years and without impunity, according to the complainants. A new wave of more than 28,000 of unaccompanied children that crossed into the U.S. in recent weeks have exposed CBP's agents widespread abuse of inappropriate touching of children's genitals during strip searches, lack of medical treatment, holding children (boys and girls) with both men and women, lack of sanitary conditions and other conditions. 
Undocumented children from ages 13 to 14 were shackled and held in freezing detention cells without being provided blankets and food. Infants who became ill weren't treated until days after the parents had asked for medical treatment. The complain also states, many children were held by CBP over the legal 72-hour holding period.
"The complaint describes Border Patrol agents denying necessary medical care to children as young as five-months-old, refusing to provide diapers for infants, confiscating and not returning legal documents and personal belongings, making racially-charged insults and death threats, and strip searching and shackling children in three-point restraints during transport. Reports of such abuse have been documented and reported for years, but no reforms have been implemented, nor have any actions been taken to hold agents accountable," the ACLU-AZ says.
In 2013, an estimated 24,000 unaccompanied children from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras crossed into the U.S. illegally. By May 2014, the influx of undocumented children into the U.S. doubled, according to the CBP.

Children named in the complaint, many of whom fled violence and persecution in their home countries, include:

● H.R., a seven-year-old boy, was severely developmentally disabled and suffering from acute malnourishment when he was apprehended, but CBP held him in custody for approximately five days without any medical treatment. He was eventually hospitalized and underwent emergency surgery.

● D.G., a 16-year-old girl, was detained with adults. When CBP officials searched D.G., they violently spread her legs and touched her genital area forcefully, making her scream.

● M.R., a 15-year-old girl, traveled from Guatemala with her two-year-old son. Both M.R. and her son became sick while in CBP custody, but M.R.'s requests for medical attention were ignored or dismissed for approximately five days, until she and her son were finally taken to a hospital.

● K.A., a 14-year-old girl, had her asthma medication confiscated by CBP officials and proceeded to suffer multiple asthma attacks in the filthy and overcrowded CBP holding cells. After the first asthma attack, officials threatened that they would punish her if she were faking.

● C.S., a 17-year-old girl, was detained in a hielera (freezer) in wet clothes. Her clothes did not dry for three and a half days due to the frigid temperature in the holding cell. The only drinking water available to C.S. came from the toilet tank, and the bathroom was situated in plain view of all other detainees with a security camera mounted in front of it.

DHS administrative complaint filed (PDF) at link:

An estimated more than 200 unaccompanied children are detained by the CBP per day along the U.S. and Mexico border. A Congressional investigation confirmed that the undocumented children are being held in the following government military installations and 94 private contracted detainee centers. As of June, more than 2,700 children remained in custody of the CBP.

● 1,500 children held at the Nogales Transition Center in Arizona

● 1,339 children were held in the Rio Valley CBP sector

● 6,218 children are detained in housing provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

● More than 1,338 as of May are being held at the Lackland Airforce base in San Antonio, Texas

● More than 100 are held at the Ventura County Naval Base near Oxnard, California. Capacity more than 500 expected.

● Fort Sill Army Base near Lawton, Oklahoma is expected to house at least 600.

● Other facilities in the U.S. are being prepared to hold thousands of unaccompanied children crossing into the U.S. illegally

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