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Very Real

Migrant Children Sent To Shelters Accused Of Abuse, Report Finds

The U.S. Health and Human Services department reportedly gave these private companies more than $1.5 billion in taxpayer money.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt

Forcibly separating migrant families at the border seems bad enough — but a shocking report now gives insight into the conditions children find themselves in the wake of traumatic separation.

A number of youth shelters where migrant children are sent have a history rife with allegations of sexual and physical abuse and neglect, according to a recent investigation by Reveal and The Texas Tribune.

The network of private companies who operate the shelters have received more than $1.5 billion in taxpayer funded grants over the last four years, the report also found.

The funds were reportedly provided by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, an agency which has awarded nearly $5 billion in grants across 18 states through the Office of Refugee Resettlement since 2003.

In one instance, staff members failed to provide medical attention to children who needed it, Reveal alleges. Other facilities received citations by state inspectors who determined that “inappropriate contact” between children and staff members had occurred.

In Texas alone, state inspectors have cited homes with more than 400 deficiencies — with one-third of them serious, Reveal reports.

However, despite serious allegations of abuse and neglect — and some bad state inspections — the federal government continues to place migrant children in many of the same facilities.

In some cases, facilities took to rebranding, either by changing their names or locations, or voluntarily closing branches after the problems were identified, as a means to continue receiving government funds, according to Reveal. It is rare for companies to lose grants altogether, regardless of the amount of complaints lodged against them, the report found.

There has been renewed interest in the safety and care of migrant children, following news of the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the border.

On Wednesday, the president revealed his plans to sign an order that would end the practice, NBC News reports.

“I’ll be doing something that’s somewhat pre-emptive and ultimately will be matched by legislation I’m sure,” President Donald Trump said.

[Photo: Protestors rally against the separation of children of immigrants from their families outside an ICE detention center on June 14, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. By Mario Tama/Getty Images]