A 6-year-old migrant girl who was separated from her mother under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy was reportedly sexually abused while she was detained in an immigrant detention facility in Arizona, according to a report published by The Nation on Friday.
The young girl, who is only identified by the initials D.L., was allegedly sexually abused by an older child who was also being held at the Phoenix-area detention facility, Casa Glendale, according to immigrant-rights advocates.
D.L. was reportedly made to sign a form in June acknowledging that she was told to keep her distance from the boy who allegedly abused her.
The Nation obtained and published the form from Southwest Key Program, the center’s operator, which said the girl had “presented sexually inappropriate behavior since about a week.”
The document shows the letter “D” on the signature line next to the words “tender age.”
D.L. and her mother entered the U.S. on May 24 at a port of entry in El Paso, Texas, to escape gang violence in Guatemala.
According to the family, the pair presented border patrol authorities with paperwork claiming that they had “credible fear” that returning to Guatemala would result in harm.
The Nation reports:
On May 26, government officials separated D.L. from her mother and sent her to Casa Glendale, a shelter outside of Phoenix operated by Southwest Key Programs. It was there that the alleged abuse occurred.
Before D.L. was taken away, her mother provided authorities with the phone number of D.L.’s father, an undocumented immigrant living in California. On June 11, D.L.’s father received a phone call from Southwest Key explaining that a boy had fondled his daughter and other girls. According to family spokesperson Mark Lane, D.L.’s father was told not to worry because Southwest Key was changing some of its protocols and that such abuse would not happen again. (Lane was connected with D.L.’s family through Families Belong Together, a coalition of civil rights advocacy groups formed in response to the recent border crackdown.) Lane says that D.L.’s father asked to speak with a social worker, but despite promises from the facility, he never heard from one.
The day after D.L.’s father was contacted, the girl was reportedly advised to sign a form stating that she had been told to “maintain my distance from the other youth involved.”
The Hill adds:
The Nation reported that the alleged abused continued and the girl’s father was contacted again on June 22 by Southwest Key staff, who said D.L. was fondled again and hit by the same boy.
According to the report, D.L.’s father asked the Southwest Key staff member how such abuse was allowed to continue. The woman then reportedly told the father that she was unable to provide him with any details apart from informing him that the incident had occurred.