For many migrants families that have been reunited with their children after being separated at the border, the reunion marks an end of a horrible period of time. And for some families, seeking asylum in the United States has forever scarred their children in ways they didn’t anticipate when they first began their trek to the United States.
According to The Nation, a migrant 6-year-old girl only referred to as “D.L.” was sexually abused twice during detention. Both incidents were caused by the same boy, who reportedly fondled the girl.
After the first incident which took place on June 4, the girl reportedly received “psychoeducation” for “reporting abuse… good touch… bad touch.” The girl also had to agree to “maintain my distance from the other youth involved.” D.L. was also made to sign the form (which she did by scrawling “D” on the signature line) that detailed the sexual abuse. The reporting form said that “The Department of Y.C.W. reported that the client has presented sexually inappropriate behavior since about a week. (Please note – client is the victim).”
Around that time, the girl’s father and mother were notified. The mother described that she “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.”
However, the incident repeated itself. The father asked how the incident could have happened again, but the woman from the detention center said that he would need to speak to the director if he wanted details.
The detention facility in question is run by Southwest Key, which is contracted by the federal government to provide immigrant housing. Southwest Key has 26 facilities in the country, all housing minorities. The non-profit is slated to receive $458 million in funding this year alone. The detention center that D.L. was at was outside of Phoenix, Arizona, reported Vox.
D.L.’s mother described the confusion and sadness that she saw in her daughter when they were reunited.
“I hugged her, I was crying. She didn’t recognize me… She told me that she thought I was never going to be with her again and that she was going to have to live with another lady. She behaved like she was still in detention. She wouldn’t touch me, hug me or kiss me.”
The family was only reunited after Families Belong Together worked on their case. They were seeking asylum because they feared for their lives due to the violence in their home country of Guatemala.