Stop the Government from Abusing Immigrant Children

Child standing in front of CBP agent next to barbed wire fence

Separating children from their parents. Harassing and arresting passengers on Greyhound buses. Detaining asylum seekers for no reason. These are just some of the horrific abuses unleashed by the Trump administration’s anti-immigration deportation machine.

Now, we’ve uncovered tens of thousands of pages of evidence documenting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials physically, sexually, and verbally abusing children. The majority of these children are asylum seekers fleeing violence in Mexico and Central America. Some are teenage mothers. Some are escaping gang violence. Some are in need of medical attention. All of them have risked their lives to find safety – and tragically, CBP has shattered that dream for so many.

CBP’s abuses are not only unconscionably inhumane, but they also violate United States law and international human rights law, which give protections to migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers – no matter their country of origin.

The uncovered documents show CBP officials – including Border Patrol agents – committing the following abuses:

  • Threatening children with rape and death
  • Depriving children of food and water and holding them in freezing and unsanitary detention cells
  • Shooting children with Tasers and stun guns
  • Punching a child in the head repeatedly
  • Running over two 17-year-olds with patrol vehicles
  • Subjecting a 16-year-old girl to a search in which they forcefully spread her legs and touched her genitals

The violations are numerous. By law, CBP can’t hold unaccompanied children for longer than 72 hours. Children in CBP custody are entitled to safe facilities, adequate food and water, and proper medical care. And as federal officials, CBP officers are legally required to report all allegations of child abuse to law enforcement, child protective services, or the FBI.

All human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their immigration status – and children, in particular, deserve special protection. The misconduct demonstrated in these records is breathtaking, as is the government’s complete failure to hold officials who abuse their power accountable.

What’s even more alarming is that these abuses occurred before President Trump came into office. The officials who oversaw these abuses are still in power today. What’s more, Trump’s hateful anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric are bound to worsen the treatment of immigrant children.

We have to do everything we can to stop CBP’s abuse of children. Add your name to hold the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection accountable and demand an end to the brutal abuse of children in his agency’s custody.

To Kevin K. McAleenan, Commissioner of United States Customs and Border Protection:

Stop subjecting children in your custody to physical, sexual, and verbal abuse. Hold the responsible agents accountable and make it impossible for any future abuse to occur.