Data show many allegations of sex abuse of migrant children

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The shelters are privately run but contracted by the government.

Some of the incidents occurred in the period between 2014 and 2016, prior to President Donald Trump taking office.

White also said the majority of such allegations "prove to be unfounded when they are investigated" by law enforcement.

"I am deeply concerned with documents that have been turned over by HHS that record a high number of sexual assaults on unaccompanied children in the custody of the Office of Refugee and Resettlement", Deutch said.

Thousands of unaccompanied minors caught crossing the southern border charged that they were sexually abused while in U.S. custody - including by staffers at the facilities where they were held.

Jonathan White, a Health and Human Services official who was in charge of the effort to reunify children with their parents, testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Any time a child is abused is one time too many.

Approximately 1,303 allegations were sent to the Department of Justice.

The documents reveal that over the past four fiscal years, in 178 cases reported to the Justice Department, adult caregivers at US facilities were reported to have sexually abused migrant minors.

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"Over the past three years, there have been 154 staff-on-unaccompanied-minor - let me repeat that, staff-on-unaccompanied-minor - allegations of sexual assault", he said.

From left, U.S. Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection Chief Carla Provost, Acting Executive Associate Director on Immigration and Customs Enforcement Operations Nathalie R. Asher, Senior Adviser Department of Health and Human Services Scott Lloyd, U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Commander Jonathan White and Department of Justice Director of Executive Office for Immigration Review James McHenry are sworn-in before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Trump administration's separation policy involving migrant families. on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019.

Administration officials admitted the policy had hiccups, but said they've learned lessons and have managed to reunite most of the children who were separated.

"These are vulnerable children in hard circumstances", she said. Additionally, the official said, providers must suspend employees accused of sexual abuse from duties that allow them access to minors. Of the reported thousands of complaints, the majority included allegations of abuse from other minors. "His knowing mischaracterization of the data-and his impugning of the ORR federal staff-was an immoral and indecent insult to all of the career civil servants who are dedicated to ensuring the health, safety, and welfare of the children in the unaccompanied alien children (UAC) program". The data span both the Obama and Trump administrations, and were first reported by Axios.

"This behavior - it's despicable, it's disgusting, and this is just the start of questions that HHS is going to have to answer about how they handle these and what's happening in these facilities", Deutch told Axios.

Between October 2014 and July 2018, the ORR reports that it received 4.556 complaints of sexual abuse of UACs.

He said because of the way the federal government tracks data, some abuse accusations would in other contexts be considered sexual harassment, including name-calling or the use of explicit language.

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