Washington — Thousands of migrant children allegedly suffered sexual abuse while in U.S. government custody over the past four years, according to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) documents released Tuesday by Florida Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch.
According to the documents, over a thousand allegations of sexual abuse against unaccompanied minors in HHS custody were reported to federal authorities each fiscal year since 2015. In total, between October 2014 and July 2018, 4,556 sexual abuse complaints were reported to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) — an agency within HHS in charge of caring for unaccompanied migrant minors.
An additional 1,303 complaints were received by the Justice Department between fiscal years 2015 and 2018, but it’s unclear whether these complaints overlap with those reported to ORR.
The documents offer a fragmented portrayal of the allegations of sexual abuse. The overall numbers of the allegations reported to ORR do not reveal specific information about the alleged perpetrator, who may be someone unknown to the child, another unaccompanied minor or a caregiver in a U.S. facility. On the other hand, the data of allegations reported to the Justice Department does provide specific information about who the alleged perpetrator was.
The documents reveal that over the past four fiscal years, in 178 cases reported to the Justice Department, adult caregivers at U.S. facilities were reported to have sexually abused migrant minors. More specifically, there were 49 allegations of sexual abuse involving adult caregivers in U.S. facilities reported to the Justice Department in both fiscal years 2017 and 2018.
“The gravity here is a systematic concealment of children being sexually abused, children being exposed to those kinds of acts,” Democratic California Rep. Lou Correa told CBS News Tuesday afternoon, as he left a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Trump administration’s family separation policy near the southwestern border.
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