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Girl Taken at Border Was Abused, Signed Odd Form

'The Nation' uncovers the sad tale of a 6-year-old girl
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2018 11:05 AM CDT
People line up to cross into the United States to begin the process of applying for asylum Thursday, July 26, 2018, near the San Ysidro port of entry in Tijuana, Mexico.   (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

(Newser) – A 6-year-old Guatemalan girl taken from her mother was sexually assaulted at least twice in a US facility—and signed a document saying it was her responsibility to avoid the abuser, the Nation reports. Identified only as DL, the girl was taken away at the Texas border on May 24 and placed in a shelter near Phoenix. Days later, shelter operator Southwest Key Programs contacted her father, who lives in Calfornia, saying a boy had fondled DL but it wouldn't happen again. A shelter document appears to confirm the June 4 assault, saying DL was told to "maintain my distance from the other youth involved" and had received "psychoeducation" about abuse and "good touch bad touch." Signed only by "D," the form says it's her "responsibility to follow the safety plan."

On June 22, Southwest Key contacted DL's father again and said the same boy had again fondled and hit his daughter. Asked how that could happen, the caller said she couldn't go into details; the shelter operator said less when contacted by the Nation. A nonprofit out of Austin, Texas, Southwest Key is contracted by the feds (this year's expected contract: $458 million) to run 26 housing facilities for immigrant minors, per Texas Monthly. An ACLU report earlier this year found hundreds of immigrant-children abuse cases in US custody between 2009 and 2014, but Customs and Border Protection called the report "unfounded and baseless." DL, now reunited with her mom and dad, appears traumatized: "She wouldn't touch me, hug me, or kiss me" for days, the mom says. "She behaves like she is programmed." (Read more undocumented immigrant stories.)

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