Exclusive: Migrant children report verbal abuse, threats while in Border Patrol custody

by Caitlin Dickson   on July 2, 2019   publication:

Migrant children kept in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have faced unsanitary conditions, verbal abuse and threats since arriving in the country, reports submitted to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) by clinicians and case managers show.

The Significant Incident Reports (SIR), five of which were obtained exclusively by Yahoo News, include descriptions provided by detained unaccompanied minors about the kinds of conditions and treatment they experienced while in CBP custody between June 12 and July 1 of this year.

The reports relay accounts provided by children about the treatment they encountered while detained at various CBP facilities along the southwest border. In almost all cases described in the reports obtained by Yahoo News, the minors had been held in CBP custody for longer than the legally mandated 72-hour limit before they were transferred to ORR care.

According to one report, submitted to ORR on June 13, an unaccompanied immigrant boy described being verbally and emotionally abused, threatened and neglected by CBP officials during the 11 days he was in custody in McAllen, Texas.

During his time in detention in McAllen, the boy reported, he became sick and developed a fever while held in a crowded and cold cell with other young males. After fainting, the boy said, he was taken by a friend to the CBP clinic, where medical staff spoke only English and did not explain to him his diagnosis nor what kind of medication they’d administered to him. According to the report, the boy said he spent three days in the sick bay at the McAllen facility, where he slept on the floor without a mattress or blanket of any kind. The report notes that the boy’s Medical Screening Confirmation from CBP states, “No medical issues identified and treated,” despite the fact that, according to the boy’s account, he was diagnosed with a fever and treated with medicine.

While in the sick bay, he also reported being verbally abused by an official in a black uniform who spoke some Spanish and told him and others in the sick bay, “Your lives don’t matter to me” and “Don’t act like little a**holes with me because, if I feel like it, I can hit you all with this stick.” The minor reported that the same official also told him, in Spanish, “If you act like a little a**hole, I will send you back to your country or I will send you to a different country so you will be alone.”

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