Jul 10, 2019

Migrant children in Arizona report abuse from CBP officers

Buses take migrants to reunite with their families in Yuma, Arizona on May 07, 2019. Photo: Ash Ponders for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Migrant children detained in Yuma, Arizona, have reported sexual abuse and degrading language by Customs and Border Patrol officers, as well as unsanitary and crowded conditions, NBC reports.

The big picture, via Axios' Stef Kight: The government is struggling to hold the surge of migrant children and families who have been crossing the border over the past year. That surge is drawing critical attention to a system that is failing to provide proper care — and often times hurting — children in its custody.

Details: In nearly 30 accounts prepared between April 10 and June 12 by HHS case managers, kids held in the Yuma Border Patrol station described "being denied a phone call, not being offered a shower, sleeping on concrete or outside with only a Mylar blanket, and feeling hungry before their 9 p.m. dinnertime," NBC reports.

  • Children have reported seeing CBP agents kick other children awake, advocacy attorney Laura Belous told NBC. Her clients also reported having food thrown at them.
  • A 15-year-old girl from Honduras said she was groped by a male officer during what should have been a routine pat down — and the man laughed at other officers while doing it.
  • A 17-year-old boy from Honduras said CBP officers would call children "puto" if they stood too close to a window.

For the record: "All children who gave accounts to case managers had been held at the border station longer than the 72 hours permitted by law," NBC reports. The Flores settlement dictates that children detained by CBP are turned over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, an extension of the Department of Health and Human Services, within 72 hours.

Flashback: Last month, lawyers said they found inadequate food and water, untreated flu and lice outbreaks, and kids being deprived of soap, blankets and toothbrushes at a Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas.

  • Some children said they were kept at the Clint facility for weeks, NPR reports — also in violation of the Flores settlement.
"U.S. Customs and Border Protection treats those in our custody with dignity and respect and provides multiple avenues to report any allegations of misconduct. ... The allegations do not align with common practice at our facilities and will be fully investigated. It’s important to note that the allegation of sexual assault is already under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General."
— A CBP spokesperson in a statement to NBC, on the Yuma allegations

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ACLU: More than 900 migrant children separated from parents at border

Undocumented migrants waiting to be processed by U.S. Border Patrol on May 15 in McAllen, Tex. Photo: Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post via Getty Images

ACLU lawyers told a federal judge on Tuesday that 911 migrant children have been removed from their parents since last year's court reunification order for separated families, the Washington Post reports.

What's happening: The ACLU urged the judge to clarify when family separation should be allowed, as the organization claims children are being separated for "minor alleged offenses," including traffic violations. The ACLU also asked the federal judge to block the Trump administration from continuing to separate families, per its Tuesday press release.

Go deeperArrowJul 30, 2019

Thousands of migrant kids face indefinite government custody

Tents to house unaccompanied migrant children at the Tornillo-Marcelino Serna Port of Entry on June 18, 2018. Photo: Christ Chavez/Getty Images

More than 4,000 migrant kids are at risk of being held indefinitely in federal government shelters because no relative or family friend has come forward to take custody of them, Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) director Jonathan Hayes told CBS in a June interview.

Why it matters: A third of all migrant children in ORR's care are in this situation — an unprecedented number. They're being held in shelters that are nearing capacity and not designed for long-term care.

Go deeperArrowJul 24, 2019

Detained migrants say they want to eat, shower, brush their teeth

A CBP agent at the Central Processing Center in McAllen, Tex. in June 2018. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Customs and Border Patrol officials in McAllen, Texas gave conflicting descriptions of the facility to reporters on Friday, as Vice President Mike Pence took a brief tour.

What's happening: As some of the 384 detained men in McAllen said they hadn't showered in weeks — and expressed that they wanted food and toothbrushes — CBP officials told reporters the men were fed regularly, could brush "daily" and had recently showered, WaPo's Josh Dawsey reports.

Go deeperArrowJul 13, 2019