by Aaron Keel, Activist Post
Immigrant children in Virginia have been tortured by officials who work in the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center according to a federal lawsuit. A preliminary investigation by state investigators, however, somehow found no abuse or neglect, as stated in a copy of the findings issued Monday by the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice obtained by The Associated Press.
“State investigators say a Virginia detention center that straps immigrant children to chairs and places bags over their heads doesn’t meet the ‘legal threshold’ for abuse,” AJ+ tweeted.
Kids as young as 14 appear to have been subjected to torture at this facility that operates as an immigration detention center.
According to the news outlet, the children were found to have been shackled, stripped naked and held in solitary confinement for days.
A state report by local child protective services (CPS) investigators reviewed complaints and interviewed residents in June. They determined the behavior of the facility “did not meet the legal definition of abuse or neglect.”
Virginia’s governor, Ralph Northam, ordered a review of the center in June hours after first-person accounts by children as young as 14, who stated they were handcuffed, shackled and even beaten at the facility.
NBC reported that state investigators said they were unable to interview the immigrant teens who made sworn statements saying they were severely abused. According to the news agency, those who made the initial complaints as part of a federal class-action lawsuit filed in November 2017 were too busy being transferred to other facilities or deported back to their home countries after closing their immigration cases.
“Whenever they used to restrain me and put me in the chair, they would handcuff me,” a Honduran immigrant who was sent to the facility when he was 15 years old. “Strapped me down all the way, from your feet all the way to your chest, you couldn’t really move. … They have total control over you. They also put a bag over your head. It has little holes; you can see through it. But you feel suffocated with the bag on.”
Further, according to NBC, the state investigators were only allowed to interview other children at the center while a member of the facility’s staff was in the room. Investigators were allowed to review case files, medical records and other documents, but were barred from making any copies or keeping any handwritten notes.
A joke for an investigation of child torture and abuse.
A legal advocacy group Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs representing the Latino teens is suing the facility, arguing this author’s same point that the state’s review is “deeply flawed” and the group expressed that investigators never contacted them or asked to speak to their clients.
“The children in this facility are denied necessary mental health care and subjected to abusive conditions,” said Jonathan Smith, executive director of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. “We look forward to proving our case in court.”
The cases involved six Latino teens included in the lawsuit who allege the abuse occurred at the facility between 2015 and 2018, under both the Obama and Trump administrations.
Many of the children were sent to the facility after U.S. immigration authorities accused them of belonging to violent gangs, including MS-13.
US President Donald Trump has repeatedly cited MS-13 gang activity as justification for his crackdown on illegal immigration.
However, a top manager at the Shenandoah center, Kelsey Wong, said during a recent congressional hearing that the children did not appear to be gang members and were instead suffering from mental health issues resulting from trauma that happened in their home countries they fled from.
“The youth were being screened as gang-involved individuals. And then when they came into our care, and they were assessed by our clinical and case management staff … they weren’t necessarily identified as gang-involved individuals,” Kelsey Wong, a program director at the facility said.
This isn’t a political issue, it’s a matter of human rights; these are children who haven’t even been charged with a crime. Some are too young to understand what’s going on; subjecting them to torture techniques in prisons is unacceptable and would be a clear human rights violation.
Activist Post previously reported on another Trump administration prison for immigrant kids at an old abandoned Walmart along the Border called Casa Padre. Again, we ask you to ponder the following thought.
One has to wonder if the Trump administration is imprisoning these children, how many more of these centers are being operated around the U.S. holding kids in detention internment camps? AG Sessions has ordered federal prosecutors to pursue criminal charges against all referrals for illegally crossing the border.
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