The American Civil Liberties Union has published a report about the mistreatment of undocumented migrant children by American officials.
The ACLU pored over 30,000 documents detailing hundreds of cases of abuse against minors by immigration officials, including physical and sexual abuse, denial of food and water, and verbal threats.
The ACLU’s statement lists incidents that took place between 2009 and 2014 including the following instances:
• A child who was punched in the head three times.
• A teenage boy who was run over by a patrol vehicle and punched several times after.
• A pregnant girl who was denied medical care when in pain until she miscarried.
• Officials refused to let the children stand for days at a time.
“All human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of their immigration status — and children, in particular, deserve special protection,” said Mitra Ebadolahi, ACLU Border Litigation Project staff attorney, in the statement. “The misconduct demonstrated in these records is breathtaking, as is the government’s complete failure to hold officials who abuse their power accountable. The abuse that takes place by government officials is reprehensible and un-American.”
Almost 1,500 migrant children have gone missing under the watch of the Health and Human Services Department. After government agencies spent the last two years rolling back funding to protect minors fleeing violence from Central America, limited resources remained to keep migrant children safe in the hands of federal officials.
As these cases show, the systemic abuse of power of immigration officials long predates the Trump administration’s anti-immigration policies.
Customs and Border Protection, the department most harshly exposed in the report, released a statement about the ACLU’s findings.
“The false accusations made by the ACLU against the previous administration are unfounded and baseless,” it read.
“CBP takes seriously all allegations of misconduct, but without new specifics is unable to check to commence reasonable steps to examine these assertions and address the accusations levied.”
It later claims that since many of the stories were anecdotal, they could not be verified and that they have since improved conditions.