WASHINGTON, D.C.—Rep. Greg Stanton today issued the following statement in response to allegations of sexual assault and mistreatment of children in a Customs and Border Protection facility in Yuma, Arizona:
“These latest allegations are deeply upsetting and are cause for grave concern for every American. What’s most alarming is that this is now a pattern in federal facilities, and the Administration refuses to do its part to improve the crisis. The conditions reported in this facility violate the law and do not reflect our American values—these children must always be safe and treated with dignity and respect.”
Last night, NBC News broke a story alleging mistreatment and sexual assault of children detained at a Customs and Border Protection facility in Yuma. According to the report, “A 15-year-old girl from Honduras described a large, bearded officer putting his hands inside her bra, pulling down her underwear and groping her as part of what was meant to be a routine pat-down in front of other immigrants and officers.” [Source: NBC News, July 9, 2019]
The allegations were made to “government case managers and obtained by NBC News” and “[a]ll children who gave accounts to case managers had been held at the border station longer than the 72 hours permitted by law.” [Source: NBC News, July 9, 2019] The 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement mandates that children cannot be held in jail-like conditions and, when in custody, should be treated with “dignity, respect, and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors.”
NBC reported that the Yuma facility conditions are unsanitary and inadequate—with no beds, poor sleep conditions and too little food—similar to those reported at a facility in Clint, Texas, which Stanton visited last Monday. At the Yuma facility, a child reported wearing soiled underwear for 10 days because he was too afraid to ask for a clean pair from officers.
In February, documents revealed that thousands of unaccompanied minors have alleged sexual abuse in Department of Health and Human Services facilities since 2015. [Source: Axios, Feb. 26, 2019]