Escaping violence and oppression in one’s homeland can be terrifying for an adult, let alone a child. It is a tragic and common occurrence for many children to attempt to gain access into California and elsewhere in the United States without parents or other adults to protect and guide them. The fear and uncertainty these children may experience while seeking safety in an unfamiliar country can seem impossible to imagine. Ideally, unaccompanied minors would be offered adequate shelter and food, as well as compassionate care, when they come into the country, but new reports suggest otherwise.
According to CBS News, the American Civil Liberties Union is accusing agents of the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection of a wide range of abuses and injustices committed against unaccompanied children, as well as failing to address, investigate and protect these vulnerable foreigners. Reportedly, the ACLU gained access to 30,000 pages of records that describe the neglect and abuse in chilling detail. Between 2009 and 2014, unaccompanied children that came into the U.S. along the southern border have reported instances of verbal abuse, including name-calling, insults and threats to harm, sexually assault or kill the young immigrants. The reports also include children saying they were punched, kicked, stomped on, tased and struck by border agents’ vehicles. They have said they were subjected to unsanitary and freezing conditions without decent food or water.
Officials from Customs and Border Protection issued a statement denying the allegations, saying prior investigations cleared them of any alleged wrongdoing. It remains to be seen if the current accusations will be proven true or unfounded, as well as how the allegations will affect unaccompanied child migrants in the future.