A leaked audio tape from inside a migrant shelter facility in Texas, United States of America reveals shocking details of sexual exploitation of minors by the staff members.
As per reports, the migrant shelter home in Fort Bliss in Texas used to house 5000 children at the peak of the border crisis. Due to overcrowding at the border patrol stations, the minor children were shifted to the facility by the Department of Health and Health Services. By May this year, the shelter home had 3000 minor children. During a training session with staff members inside the shelter home in Fort Bliss in Texas, a federal contractor was heard as saying, “We have already caught staff with minors inappropriately. Is that OK with you guys?”
The staff members then responded with a resounding ‘No.’ The contractor added, “If you catch them, especially if it’s a staff member, you separate that minor from that person immediately.” However, the contractor did not ask the staff to report such incidents to the supervisors. She conceded that minor children had complained about staff members bouncing on their beds to wake them up in the morning. This was also revealed in the leaked audio tapes from May. The contractor added, “I know there have been a lot of complaints from minors about staff members waking them up in the morning.”
“We’ve got some staff members that are picking up and shaking the bed to wake up the minor. Or they’re bouncing them on the bed. They think they’re being playful, but that constitutes child abuse. I want you guys to know that,” the contractor acknowedged. During another such staff interaction, a doctor for the U.S. Public Health Service acknowledged the allegations of sexual misconduct at the facility although he did not specifically talk about the involvement of the employees. A staff member conceded that the minor children were having sex between them and cases of possible sexual assault.
“There is a concern about the kids having sex with each other and possible sexual assault. Thoughts on that? That’s been on our radar since day one. That will always be a situation that you’re always dealing with. There are processes for reporting, for intervening, for doing interviews on allegations. Having gender separation has been fantastic, right? OK, it’s better than where it was in the first week, when we had boys and girls in the first week and there’s no barrier. Imagine that,” the employee added.
Following the revelations, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra assured to take cognisance of the wrongdoings. “Every emergency intake site we have launched, we started from scratch. We constantly work to improve the conditions and services required to care for children in these challenging shelter settings,” Becerra added. The revelations confirm the allegations made by whistleblowers about the lack of transparency in the government-held facility. Over growing concerns about children’s safety, the number of minor migrants at the facility has been limited.