Young immigrants holding a vigil in Virginia say they were abused by guards

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The US State Department’s Bureau of International Information “U.S. Reference” lauren monsen reports from Washington that 14-year-old immigrant children were detained in a juvenile detention center in Virginia. They were beaten, handcuffed, held in solitary confinement for a long time, naked. , shivering in the concrete cell.

The allegations of ill-treatment at the Shenandoah Valley youth center near Staunton, Virginia, were detailed in documents submitted by the Federal Court, including six Latino teenagers held for months or years. Sworn testimony. Several detainees said that the guards stripped their clothes, tied them to their chairs and put their bags over their heads.

“Whenever they restrict me and put me on a chair, they will pick me up,” said a 15-year-old Honduran immigrant. “They still put a bag on your head.”

In addition to first-hand translations provided by the children in court documents, a child development expert who worked at the agency told the Associated Press that she saw some children with bruises and bone fractures. They blamed the responsibility on Security. She requested anonymity because she was not authorized to openly discuss these children’s cases.

In court documents, the detention center’s lawyer denied all allegations of ill-treatment.

U.S. immigration authorities accused the children of being violent gangs, including MS-13, after which many children were sent there. U.S. President Donald Trump repeatedly stated that his reasons for cracking down on illegal immigration are gang activities.

However, at the most recent congressional hearing, Kelsey Wong, the project’s program director, said that in many cases, these children do not appear to be members of a gang but also have mental health problems.

The Shenandoah Detention Centre is one of the only three youth detention centers in the United States that has federal contracts and provides “safe placement” for children who have problems in less restrictive housing. It was built by a coalition of seven nearby towns and counties to detain local children accused of serious crimes.

Since 2007, about half of the 58 beds have been inhabited by male and female immigrants between the ages of 12 and 17. They are facing deportation procedures. Although these immigrant children are confined to prison-like facilities, they have not been found guilty.

On average, 92 immigrant children pass through Shenandoah each year, most of them from Mexico and Central America.

The lawsuit against Shenandoah stated that the young Hispanic immigrants who were detained there were “contained in conditions of unconstitutionality and were shocked by these conditions, including staff violence, abuse and overuse of segregation and restrictions. And refuses necessary mental health care.”

A complaint filed by a legal advocacy organization based in Washington, DC, tells the story of a 17-year-old Mexican citizen arrested on the southern border. In 2015, the teenager fled his father’s abuse and drug trafficking group’s violence and went to the United States for asylum.

After staying at facilities in Texas and New York, he was transferred to Shenandoah in April 2016 and was diagnosed with three kinds of mental disorders including depression in a preliminary screening by a psychiatrist. obstacle. The indictment stated that the teenager did not receive further mental health treatment.

The lawsuit described multiple incidents of violence between Hispanic children and staff in the centre of Shenandoah. According to the report, most of these guards are Spanish-speaking whites and have insufficient training in mental illness.

In their sworn statement, these teenagers reported that they were kept in prison cells for most of the time and had several hours for classes, entertainment and meals. Some people say they have never been allowed outdoors.

The lawsuit stated that the bad conditions and verbal abuse of staff often escalated into physical confrontation because these frustrated children were out there. Staff usually “exert too much force, far beyond the power needed to establish or restore control.”

In the case of the 17-year-old Mexican man, the indictment stated that a staff member suspected of holding contraband had him fall to the ground, forcibly tore off his clothes and conduct a temporary strip search. Although no prohibited items were found, the teenager was transferred to a unit set up specifically for children with bad behavior.

According to the lawsuit, Latino children are often confined to chairs for hours, handcuffs and drapes on their legs. The lawsuit stated that these children are often beaten by employees.

The lawsuit stated that due to this “malicious and abusive use of force,” immigrant youth “has suffered both physical and psychological harm.”

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