The ACLU and four other immigrants rights groups issued a complaint, Tuesday, detailing reports of what they call systemic abuse against unaccompanied immigrant children by Customs and Border Protection Officials and called on the Department of Homeland Security to put a stop to it.
Sixteen-year-old G.G. says she was apprehended in Texas by Border Patrol agents who told her they would kill her if she tried to run. “Your little scheme won’t work to keep you here in the U.S.,” an agent reportedly told her, accusing G.G. of lying when she told them her age. She says she was detained by Customs and Border Protection for a total of nine days in five different detention centers—each one worse than the last. CBP officials allegedly fed her moldy bread and, when she vomited from the food, accused her of being pregnant and called her a “dirty liar.” Her bed consisted of a thin sheet of paper on the floor of her cell and the bathroom, without doors or garbage cans, was covered in used toilet paper and sanitary pads. “You’re the garbage that contaminates this country,” CBP officials reportedly told her.
This is just one of 116 different, yet equally horrifying, individual tales included in a report released Tuesday (PDF) on alleged rampant abuses by U.S. Customs and Border Protection—the federal agency that includes Border Patrol—against unaccompanied immigrant children. The rapid influx of kids, many of them from Central America, illegally crossing the border into Texas over the past few months has captured recent headlines. Unable to accommodate all of the children apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley, Customs and Border Protection have been sending unaccompanied minors by the hundreds to detention centers in Arizona over the past few days and even more are expected. According to a recent investigation by Mother Jones, 70,000 kids will cross the border without parents this year. As senior administration officials confirmed during a media conference call earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security, the agency that includes Customs and Border Protection, was in no way prepared for the high volume of undocumented children and, as such, are scrambling to accommodate them.