Government-run immigrant youth centers are putting children in the hands of sexual predators, a haunting new report has revealed.
In the new report by ProPublica, it is revealed that police records show shelters used to hold migrant children are a “gold mine” for predators.
“You have full access, and then you have kids that have already had this history of being victimized,” said Lisa Fortuna, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Boston Medical Center.
Safe havens for children?— Ken Armstrong (@bykenarmstrong) July 27, 2018
No.@MichaelGrabell @ReporterTopher reveal that in the past 5 years, police have responded to at least 125 calls reporting sex offenses at immigrant youth shelters.
"If you're a predator, it's a gold mine."@ProPublica https://t.co/969IcRTmr7
Police reports from two-thirds of the shelters run by the United States Health and Human Services Department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement were named in hundreds of allegations of child abuse.
One of the victims, a 15-year-old boy from Honduras, woke up one day in 2015 to find a youth care worker “tickling” his chest and stomach. After the teen questioned the 46-year-old man’s presence in his room, he left. Still, the man returned two other times to reportedly rub the teen’s penis through his clothing. As he tried reaching under his boxers, he told the boy, “I know what you want, I can give you anything you need.”
The man was convicted of molestation.
Another victim, a 17-year-old boy from Honduras, found a worker praising him for the size of his penis as he recovered from surgery. The same man later brushed the teen with his hand while he played video games. Afraid of the employee, the boy locked himself in the bathroom the next time he approached.
Many of the reports of abuse happened at shelters run by the federal government under former President Barack Obama, but immigrant advocates worry that President Donald Trump’s child separation policy will aggravate this problem, as more kids are being forced into the system.
With the administration failing to reunite the separated families quickly, these children are at risk of being targeted by abusers who could be working at these facilities.
Currently, ProPublica reports, there are approximately 100 immigrant youth shelters run by the government. While reporters looked at police records related to 70 of these facilities, they found that police responded to at least 125 calls related to sex offenses in the past five years.
According to psychologists who work with migrant children, the number of abuse cases must be much higher as many victims don’t report the incidents out of fear it may negatively impact their immigration process.
Hopefully, these new revelations will help shed light on the sexual abuse issue, forcing the administration to finally address and fix this horrific problem.