According to the federal government, thousands of migrant children in U.S. custody have been victims of sexual assault since 2015, as reported in documents from the Departement of Health and Human Services.
CBS News reported in February that “between October 2014 and July 2018, 4,556 sexual abuse complaints were reported to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) — an agency within HHS in charge of caring for unaccompanied migrant minors.”
The HHS documents were released earlier this year by Florida Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch.
The Justice Department received another 1,303 complaints of sexual abuse, but CBS News said it was not clear how many might overlap with those received by ORR.
Many cases of reported abuse do not indicate who the perpetrator was, according to the news report, as ORR documents neglect to mention whether it was someone “unknown to the child, another unaccompanied minor or a caregiver in a U.S. facility.” But complaints registered with the DOJ do provide this information.
Since 2015, 178 cases referred to the department involved alleged sexual abuse by adult caregivers at U.S. facilities.
Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA) told CBS News earlier this year that he believes the Trump administration is engaged in a “systematic cover up” of the abuse, saying, "The gravity here is a systematic concealment of children being sexually abused, children being exposed to those kinds of acts.”
"We're supposed to have transparency, we're supposed to work and make things better. If you make mistakes, you fess up to that and you move on," the lawmaker added. "But to cover up something like this — child abuse — is just beyond my imagination."
According to ORR policy, caregivers in U.S. facilities are required to report allegations of sexual abuse, sexual harassment and retaliation against allegations within four hours of learning of the incident, CBS News said.
An HHS official told the outlet that those providing care to migrant children are also required “to report all allegations of sexual abuse to ORR, state and child protective services, the Office of Inspector General for HHS and the FBI.”