House Investigates Allegations of Thousands of Migrant Children Sexually Abused Under U.S. Custody


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Haley Hartner, News Editor

During a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, data from the U.S Health Department revealed 4,500 complaints of sexual abuse with detained children from 2014-2018.  

The hearing, which encompassed President Trump’s “Zero Tolerance” policy, featured Florida Representative Ted Deutch, who publicly presented the data of reported sexual abuse from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services.

According to the data, the office of Refugee Resettlement received over 4,500 reports of alleged sexual abuse and harassment of detained under-age individuals between the years 2014 to 2018.  

Of these reports, over 1,300 complaints of sexual abuse were severe enough to be received by the Department of Justice and investigated by the FBI, though many were regarded as “unfounded.”

Over 150 of the reports were against faculty members tasked with escorting the youth, daily.

The reports included incidents of sexual relationships, forcible touching, and showing pornographic videos to children.

Former Deputy Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Jonathan White, appeared on behalf of HHS to testify to the allegations.

White clarified that the allegations of sexual abuse were against the workers from the detention facilities where migrant children are kept, and not HHS staff.  However, he also stated that the manifestation of sexual abuse and harassment cases create an “unsafe environment” for migrant children, in all 135 government migrant shelters.

“We share the concern that I think everyone in this room feels,” he added.  “Anytime a child is abused in the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement is one time too many.”