U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirms it is investigating an allegation that one of its officers sexually assaulted a 15-year-old migrant girl at a facility in Yuma, Arizona. The alleged incident was first reported by NBC News.The teen, from Honduras, said the officer put his hands inside her bra, pulled down her underwear and groped her during what was supposed to be a routine pat down, with other immigrants and officers there.
The agency said in a statement that, “The allegation of sexual assault is already under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General.” CBP is part of that department.
The agency also said it “treats those in our custody with dignity and respect and provides multiple avenues to report any allegations of misconduct. We take all allegations seriously and investigate all formal complaints.”
CBP added that other allegations in the NBC News report “do not align with common practice at our facilities and will be fully investigated.”
Among those allegations are officers retaliating for protests by migrants in the Yuma facility.
NBC News cites “dozens of accounts” it obtained “by children held in Arizona collected by government case managers.”
The allegations come amid reports of extremely overcrowded border facilities in Texas that have unsanitary and unsafe conditions.
CBP is seeking more resources. Congress recently approved $4.6 billion in additional funding to help.
Among other allegations NBC News says are in the reports by case managers is one from a 16-year-old Guatemalan boy who says CBP officers took mats out of their cell, forcing them to sleep on concrete, after they griped about the taste of water and food they were supplied with.
Also, a 17-year-old boy from Honduras saying migrants who got near a window would be reprimanded by agents who occasionally referred to them with the derogatory Spanish term “puto.”