The ACLU has uncovered a dark CBP Secret
Between 2009-2014, 30,000 pages worth of complaints were filed regarding abuse towards undocumented children by U.S. Border Patrol agents. After retrieving these records through a Freedom of Information lawsuit and going through them, the ACLU and International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School have officially published their analyses of the findings, and the results are not good.
The report, titled “Neglect and Abuse of Unaccompanied Immigrant Children by U.S. Customs and Border Protection,” is 48 pages long, with that count including multiple endnotes supporting the claims and statistics provided in the draft.
Before delving into the allegations of “systemic patterns of mistreatment,” as the Huffington Post phrased it, the document begins by providing an overview of U.S. immigration law, the roles of various federal departments on the matter, and the legal protections provided to immigrant children.
In particular, it cites the Flores Settlement, a provision that “created nationwide standards on the treatment, detention, and release of children in federal government custody.” Under it, not only are undocumented kids supposed to be provided with safe facilities, but they are to be treated “with dignity, respect and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors.”
Unfortunately, what allegedly happened in the six recorded years ignored the Flores Settlement, instead giving the ACLU a series of stories too reminiscent of the disturbing torture experienced by prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. For example, one 15-year old girl named Jahveel Ocompo was separated from her 2-year old child and threatened with rape, while a 16-year old boy was beaten and kicked by agents.
Many captive children were frequently tasered, had guns pointed at them, and were kept in detention rooms with horrible conditions:
“Additionally, firsthand accounts and internal government reports documented horrific detention conditions: children held in freezing rooms with no blankets, food, or clean water; forced to sleep on concrete floors or share overcrowded cells with adult strangers; denied necessary medical care; bullied into signing self-deportation paperwork.”
Even worse testimonies allege children being sexually assaulted, run over by trucks, and put into stress positions.
The uncomfortable fact people will have to accept is that all this happened under the Obama Administration’s watch and no action was done. When the CBP was allowed to act this draconian towards minors without repercussions, it does not take much to imagine how bad the situation has grown under Trump’s reign of terror where Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has become effectively militarized.
Immigration reform desperately needs to happen so that horrifying alleged incidents like these can be stopped. As, even though “the Department of Homeland Security completed an investigation after complaints first surfaced in 2014,” the ACLU has argued that their practices have not changed.
Support for change has to come from both from grassroots activism and top-down political initiatives. While the CBP denies these claims, the ACLU will continue to work to achieve justice for the victims. Please consider donating to them to support their cause.