Migrant Children Allege Sexual Assault, Mistreatment By Yuma Border Patrol Agents

Jul 9, 2019

Migrant children who have stayed at the Yuma Border Patrol Station Headquarters allege sexual assault and mistreatment by some agents.

NBC News reported late Tuesday dozens of accounts by children held in Yuma were collected by government case managers.

They include allegations of forcing children to sleep on hard concrete and a 15-year-old girl from Honduras describing a male officer putting his hands inside her bra, pulling down her underwear and groping her during a pat down in front of other migrants and officers.

One boy said some officers scolded them and called them an offensive, homophobic word.

The Yuma Sector has been holding unaccompanied children in a new, larger temporary facility since late June. Before that, they were in an overcrowded main building on the property. 

Officials told KAWC earlier Tuesday that about 350 migrants- family units and unaccompanied children- were apprehended over the 4th of July holiday weekend. This is down from about 425 migrants daily earlier in June. 

These latest allegations in Yuma follow earlier reports of children at a Border Patrol facility near El Paso, Texas going without soap or toothpaste, among other poor living conditions.

Mario Campos is the union representative of the National Border Patrol Council in Yuma. Campos said if the allegations are true, he wants to see accountability.

“If in fact these allegations are true, that’s a very tragic situation for anybody to go through," Campos told KAWC. "I hope that if the allegations are true that the agency takes the proper steps in disciplining whoever is responsible and law enforcement takes action against them.”

KAWC reached out to Yuma Sector Border Patrol officials, who declined to comment on the allegations.

In a statement, a CBP spokesperson said "U.S. Customs and Border Protection treats those in our custody with dignity and respect and provides multiple avenues to report any allegations of misconduct... The allegations do not align with common practice at our facilities and will be fully investigated... the allegation of sexual assault is already under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General."

The president of the National Border Patrol Council said he is “very confident” that the allegations will be proven false. Brandon Judd told KTAR News in Phoenix on Wednesday that cameras around the facility can easily determine what took place.

U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva issued the following statement:

“The situations described by these children are unconscionable and should shake every American to their core. Sexual abuse, retaliation, and any form of child abuse should never be common-place, yet the culture of corruption and systemic abuse within all facilities holding asylum-seeking children and their families has made this a disgusting reality. The time has long since passed for the Trump Administration to end their cruel immigration policies, stop separating families, and utilize alternatives to detention that will remove children from these harmful facilities.

Investigation after investigation continues to be met with impunity for those involved in these actions—despite ample evidence implicating wrongdoing. Congress should immediately pass a bill to ensure recent funding provided to address the humanitarian crisis is conditioned upon the highest standards and conduct necessary to keep families and children safe from the rampant systematic abuses of this administration. 

The Trump Administration must end its intentional delays and worsening of the humanitarian situation. Every last individual abusing children—or complicit by turning a blind eye—needs to be fired and criminally prosecuted for their disgusting behavior, and Members of Congress must be allowed immediate access to these facilities to conduct urgent oversight.”

Stay tuned to KAWC for more information as it becomes available.