El Salvador: 3 kids separated in US were abused at Arizona shelters

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – Three minors from El Salvador separated from their parents after crossing the U.S. border were sexually abused in shelters in Arizona, Salvadoran officials said Thursday.

Liduvina Magarin, deputy foreign relations minister for Salvadorans overseas, said authorities had received reports of the abuse of the children ages 12 to 17 by workers at unnamed shelters.

“They are sexual violations, sexual abuses, that is what this is about,” Magarin told journalists.

She added that the Salvadoran government is making lawyers available to the families, and it will be up to them to decide how to proceed.

The revelations come as the Trump administration has been facing heavy criticism over its slow pace in reuniting separated families. Most have been reunited, but hundreds remain apart.

Magarin said her government is pressuring the United States to begin reunification of the children with their families. “May they leave the shelters as soon as possible, because it is there that they are the most vulnerable.”

Magarin said the three minors were in good health but “the psychological and emotional impact is forever, and we are attending to that situation.”

Once back with their families, they will be offered psychological assistance.

Magarin urged U.S. authorities to respect due process and said “they have acted in accordance with the law.”

In late July, the news website ProPublica reported that police had received at least 125 reports since 2014 of sex offenses at shelters that mostly house migrant children.

Arizona health officials said last week that Southwest Key facilities housing migrant children had failed on multiple occasions to properly check the backgrounds of their employees, some of whom had been accused of sexually abusing children there, according to the Arizona Republic. But, state officials said, a series of unannounced inspections of those facilities this month found nothing that would put the migrant children in “immediate jeopardy.”

The state agency released the results of its snap inspections, launched after The Arizona Republic reported last month on allegations of sex abuse at facilities in Tucson and Glendale.

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