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The Department of Health and Human Services Received Complaints of Alleged Sexual Abuse Against Foreign National Minors

Migrant children may be at risk on the ground and overseas.

According to internal agency documents released Tuesday by Florida Congressman Ted Deutch, the federal Department of Health and Human Services has received official complaints of alleged sexual abuse against unaccompanied foreign national minors in government custody. From October 2014 under the Obama administration to July 2018 under the Trump administration, the department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement in Washington, D.C. received more than 4,000 official complaints and the Department of Justice received more than 1,300 official complaints. 

This involved 178 allegations of sexual abuse against migrant children by adult staff of immigrant detention centers who are not federal employees. According to the Justice Department, the staff are accused of having relationships with the minors, unwanted sexual touching towards the minors, and showing the minors pornographic videos.

The United States is not the only country facing issues with sexual abuse against foreign national migrant minors. According to a recent United Nations Human Rights and Red Cross report, unaccompanied migrant children are on the rise and more likely at higher risk of sexual and gender-based violence or abuse during transit from their own home country to the country they are seeking asylum.

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