Thousands of reports of sexual abuse against undocumented youth in U.S. custody revealed
According to Axios, there have been thousands of sexual abuse allegations on behalf of undocumented minors who were unaccompanied while in the custody of the United States government. Axios received documents from the office of Representative Ted Deutch (D-FL), which trace the allegations over the past four years. The assaults reported to the Department of Justice included rumors of relationships with the unaccompanied minors, showing them pornographic videos, and forcibly touching their genitals.
According to Deutch, these documents were included in the Dept of Health and Human Services’ response to a House Judiciary Committee request for information made in January. Deutch told Axios, “This behavior—it’s despicable, it’s disgusting, and this is just the start of questions that HHS is going to have to answer about how they handle these and what’s happening in these facilities.”
HHS spokesperson Caitlin Oakley responded to these allegations by telling Axios, “The safety of minors is our top concern when administering our unaccompanied alien children program. Each of our grantees running standard shelters is licensed by the respective state for child care services. In addition to other rigorous standards put in place by the Office of Refugee Resettlement at HHS’ Administration for Children and Families, background checks of all facility employees are mandatory.”
One of the documents Axios received does give some detail about those allegations, though it only covers the fiscal years of 2015-2016. There is also no information regarding the fates of the accused staffers in 2017-2018. It remains unknown if there is any overlap between allegations made to the Office of Refugee Resettlement and allegations made to the DOJ, but according to the documents received by Axios, all allegations referred to the DOJ were also given to the HHS.