IMMIGRATION

Illegal immigrant sisters allege they were sexually assaulted by border agent

Strategy Room: Jeanne Zaino and Flip Pidot on legal pusback from Hawaiian attorneys

 

Two ilegal immigrant teenagers headed toward the U.S. from Guatemala said they were sexually assaulted by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent who they flagged down for help in July 2016.

The border agent took sisters, ages 19 and 17, to an immigration intake center in Presidio, Texas, where he made the pair strip down and sexually assaulted them in a small room, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing a suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.

The agent was not identified.

“What happened in that closet has caused me so much pain and sadness,” the older sister, who asked to remain anonymous, said through a lawyer. "I’m telling my story because I don’t want anyone else to go through this."

The agent allegedly took the sisters into a small room at the facility and said he had to strip search them for security. At that point he allegedly fondled them. The older sister said they began to cry while the border agent tried to console them with blankets and snacks, the Los Angeles Times reported.

When the older sister tried to explain to other officers what had happened, she was called a liar, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

“CBP must be held accountable for its officer’s sexual abuse of these vulnerable victims,” their attorney said. “There has been no criminal prosecution against the officer involved. CBP is not above the law, and its abuses of power must not be tolerated.”

The sisters were transferred to a detention center about an hour away from Presidio and they were released two days later, according to the Star-Telegram. They were reunited with their mother, who lives in Fresno, Calif., about three days after their release.

The Border Patrol has a zero-tolerance policy against sexual assault in its detention centers and it is required that any employee who learns of sexual assault in the center to report it to a superior.

A Border Patrol rep told the Los Angeles Times “there is no room in CBP for the mistreatment or misconduct of any kind” towards those in detention.

Click for more from the Los Angeles Times.