Immigrant Rights Groups Allege Child Abuse by Customs and Border Protection

Jun 11, 2014

Immigrant rights groups filed a complaint today alleging what they called systemic abuse of children who are picked up by Customs and Border Protection. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer reports.

The wall along the Arizona-Mexico border.
Credit Getty

Allegations in the complaint to the Department of Homeland Security include rape of a 15-year-old in a cave by a Customs and Border Protection official; a 13-year-old boy molested by adults in the same holding cell; asthma medications taken away from a 14-year-old girl; frozen food and lack of blankets and milk for teen mothers for themselves and their children. Joe Anderson of Americans for Immigrant Justice cited what he said was denial of medical treatment to a severely developmentally disabled and undernourished 7-year-old boy to the point where he had to be hospitalized.

“This is a child that was held by our government in one of these facilities without any type of care. We think it’s just a spectacular and disturbing example of the great need for the government to do something right now,” Anderson said.

Ashley Huebner, an attorney at the National Immigration Justice Center, said the sudden influx of unaccompanied children has nothing to do with the belief by some that they will get amnesty. She acknowledged some may have heard that if they make it this far they will be given over to relatives here.

“But these children would not be making such an incredibly dangerous journey to come to the United States, at risk to their life in many cases, if there wasn’t such a terrible condition back in their home country that was pushing them to come this way,” Huebner said.

There was no immediate response from federal officials.