REPORT: Thousands of Migrant Unaccompanied Minors Sexually Abused While in U.S. Custody
A report from the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement indicates that thousands of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) were sexually abused during the past four years in federal custody. Of those reported to the Department of Justice, 65 percent of the abuses were at the hands of other minors in custody.
U.S. Representative Ted Deutch (D-FL), who serves on the House Judiciary Committee, released a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) that claims thousands of unaccompanied minors were sexually abused during the past four years while they were in federal custody, Axios reported.
Between October 2014 and July 2018, the ORR reports that it received 4.556 complaints of sexual abuse of UACs. Additionally, the Department of Justice (DOJ) reported receiving 1,303 sexual abuse of unaccompanied minors complaints — of those, 851 were allegedly carried out at the hands of other unaccompanied minors, the report stated. DOJ officials reported 178 cases of claimed abuse of these minors at the hands of adult ORR staff.
“This behavior — it’s despicable, it’s disgusting, and this is just the start of questions that HHS is going to have to answer about how they handle these and what’s happening in these facilities,” Deutch told the reporters from Axios.
HHS spokesperson Caitlin Oakley responded to the report, saying, “These are vulnerable children in difficult circumstances, and ORR fully understands its responsibility to ensure that each child is treated with the utmost care. When any allegations of abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect are made, they are taken seriously and ORR acts swiftly to investigate and respond.”
Axios stated there is some overlap in the numbers reported by the DOJ and HHS. The news outlet also reported that in “many cases” the alleged offending staff member was removed from duty and fired.
The report does not discuss any possible criminal charges against staff members or other UACs who allegedly perpetrated the offenses. It also does not detail any gang affiliations or nationalities of any of the unaccompanied minors allegedly committing the abuses.
During Fiscal Year 2018, more than 50,000 UACs were apprehended after illegally crossing the border between ports of entry, according to the 2018 Southwest Border Migration Report published by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Nearly 9,000 more were crossed at legal ports of entry.
During the first four months of Fiscal Year 2019, nearly 22,000 unaccompanied minors came into federal custody after illegally crossing the border between ports of entry (20,123) or at legal ports of entry (1,621).
Since President Barack Obama implemented his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, the numbers of migrant children housed by the federal government jumped more than 450 percent. Government programs provided shelter to about 8,000 per year prior to implementation. After, the numbers jumped exponentially to an average of more than 44,000 annually, Breitbart News reported in January.
The increase has shown a dramatic impact on the cost to U.S. taxpayers. As of January 13, HHS is housing approximately 10,500 UACs in roughly 100 shelters across 17 states, an agency official stated. During Fiscal Year 2018, the average duration of a migrant child’s stay in a facility was about 60 days.
The official stated that the average cost to house a migrant child in a regular shelter facility is about $256 per day. Therefore, the average cost per migrant child over the 60-day stay in an HHS shelter is approximately $15,360. This means the cost for the 10,500 unaccompanied minors currently being housed in HHS shelters is nearly $2.7 million per day, according to the numbers provided by HHS. If these migrant children were held for the full 60 days, the cost would reach nearly $164 million.
However, these numbers do not account for overflow situations where the cost of housing nearly triples to $775 per day or $46,500 per migrant child housed for the 60-day average. Breitbart News has requested information about how many migrant children are held in these overflow housing beds.
Congress decreased the annual budget for housing UACs from nearly $1.6 billion in FY2018 to $1.3 billion in FY2019, according to HHS records.