After a 6-year-old girl was sexually abused in an immigrant detainment center in Arizona, she was forced to sign a document saying it was her responsibility to stay away from her abuser. The girl was residing in the detention facility after being forcibly separated from her parents at the southern border. Her abuser is an older child staying in the same center, Casa Glendale.
The document states that it is her responsibility to follow a “safety plan” which includes reporting abuse as “Good touch” or “Bad touch.” Her “signature” is just her first initial with “tender age” in parentheticals.
In June, the same abuser hit and sexually abused the girl again.
The girl has been identified as D.L. and had been separated from her mother under Attorney General Jeff Session’s family separation policy.
“I felt really horrible. I couldn’t do anything for her, because we were separated,” D.L’s mother said using a translator in an interview with The Nation. “It was a nightmare. When my husband told me what happened, I felt helpless. She was so little, she was probably so scared, probably afraid to say anything to anyone. It was a total nightmare for me.”
D.L. and her mother sought asylum at the border in May after fleeing gang violence in Guatamala. They came to an official checkpoint in El Paso, Texas with their asylum paperwork.
The detention center is run by Southwest Key, a nonprofit that is contracted by the government to hold minors separated from their parents at the border. They have 26 facilities across the U.S.
D.L. has since been reunited with her parents. Her mother told The Nation that D.L. ““behaved like she was still in detention. She wouldn’t touch me, hug me, or kiss me . . . She didn’t know I was her mom. She thought I was another social worker.”
The policy of separating families at the border resulted from the announcement of Trumps “zero-tolerance” border policy in April, which aimed to prosecute as many border-crossers as possible – even those who turned themselves over to Border Patrol seeking asylum. Under this policy, parents were immediately sent into criminal custody, while children were classified as “unaccompanied alien children.” This classification used to only apply to minors crossing the border without an adult relative. It allowed Border Patrol to forcefully separate the children from their parents.
Trump signed an executive order to end the family separation policy in June, but it did nothing to reunite the over 2000 detained children with their parents. Despite being forced by a court order to reunite every separated child, the administration has so far only reunited two-thirds of families by the court’s deadline. About 650 children are still locked away without their parents.
Media Resources: Fortune 7/28/18; The Nation 7/27/18; Feminist Newswire 6/20/18