U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents neglected and abused more 100 migrant children who were in their custody, including sexual and physical abuse and threats to rape them, according to a new report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the University of Chicago Law School International Human Rights Clinic.
“Migrant children long have reported varied mistreatment in CBP custody, including sexual, physical, and verbal abuse, and the deprivation of basic needs such as food, water, and emergency medical care,” the ACLU said in a summary of the report, which is based on more than 30,000 pages of records detailing accusations from 116 unaccompanied minors from 2009 to 2014.
The Hill added:
Some children accused officers of punching or kicking them and running them over with vehicles. Others described being tased and verbally abused by officers.
Children also described being deprived of edible food and water, held in freezing cells, touched inappropriately by officers and threatened with rape or death.
The report accuses the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of violating federal law by not reporting the alleged abuses to the FBI.
“These records document a pattern of intimidation, harassment, physical abuse, refusal of medical services, and improper deportation,” the report said. “These failures have allowed a culture of impunity to flourish within CBP, subjecting immigrant children to conditions that are too often neglectful at best and sadistic at worst.”
In 2014, DHS conducted an investigation into past allegations of abuse against unaccompanied minors, saying that they were “unable to substantiate any of the allegations.”
However, the ACLU states that past DHS investigations “indicate systemic failures to meaningfully investigate the allegations.”
Dan Hetlage, a spokesperson for CBP, called the ACLU report “unfounded.”
“The false accusations made by the ACLU against the previous administration are unfounded and baseless,” Hetlage said in a statement. “The ‘report’ equates allegations with fact, flatly ignores a number of improvements made by CBP as well as oversight conducted by outside, independent agencies.”
“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,” he added.