Sat, Sep 01, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Three Salvadorean minors were abused at US shelters

AP, SAN SALVADOR

Three minors from El Salvador separated from their parents after crossing the US border were sexually abused in shelters in Arizona, Salvadorean officials said on Thursday.

Authorities had received reports of the abuse of the children aged 12 to 17 by workers at unnamed shelters, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Salvadoreans Abroad Liduvina Magarin said.

“They are sexual violations, sexual abuses — that is what this is about,” Magarin told reporters.

The Salvadorean government is making lawyers available to the families, and it would be up to them to decide how to proceed, she added.

The revelations come as US President Donald Trump’s administration has been facing heavy criticism over its slow pace in reuniting separated families. Most have been reunited, but hundreds remain apart.

Magarin said that her government is pressuring the US to begin reunification of the children with their families.

“May they leave the shelters as soon as possible, because it is there that they are the most vulnerable,” she said.

Magarin said the three minors are in good health, but “the psychological and emotional impact is forever, and we are attending to that situation.”

Once back with their families, they are to be offered psychological assistance, she added.

Magarin urged US authorities to respect due process and said “they have acted in accordance with the law.”

In late July, news Web site ProPublica reported that police had received at least 125 reports since 2014 of sex offenses at shelters that mostly house migrant children.

A former youth care worker at a nonprofit that houses immigrant children separated from their parents was on July 31 arrested on suspicion of molesting a 14-year-old girl at a Phoenix, Arizona, facility, police said.

The organization at the time declined to say whether the girl had been separated from family, but the employee was fired.

According to data provided by the US, Magarin said, 191 Salvadoran children were separated from their parents at the border in the past few months, while 18 remain in shelters awaiting reunification.

Salvadorean government data show a 48 percent drop in migration from the country to the US so far this year compared with last year, she said.

About 2.5 million Salvadoreans live in the US.

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