Regardless of feelings on immigration, the abuse of children is unacceptable.

A shocking new report reveals even more about the toll immigration takes on children. We can do better.

According to a May 2018 ACLU report, hundreds of children suffered abuse at the hands of U.S. border authorities. The crimes alleged range from verbal threats to physical abuse to being denied urgent medical care.

This isn't political. The crimes in the report happened between 2009 and 2014, when President Barack Obama was still office. They reveal systemic abuse and how the most vulnerable people can be overlooked amid the noise of a larger political debate.


Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

The Customs and Border Protection agency has challenged the ACLU report, saying they've reformed their policies while simultaneously denying the bulk of allegations contained in the 30,000 page ACLU document. However, if even one of the allegations is true, it exposes a tragic tale and a problem that must be fixed.

Most of the immigrants in the reports of abuse were already fleeing unstable and threatening conditions, seeking asylum in a country they thought would protect them. "These are allegations that span across multiple years, multiple states, involving children from different backgrounds," said ACLU attorney Mitra Ebadolahi. "The consistency to them, to us, indicates that there’s truth there."

This has nothing to do with the debate over immigration. It's about basic humanity.

Everybody is entitled to basic human rights, and unfortunately, children and other vulnerable populations are often the most at risk. The details in the ACLU report aren't concepts. They are stories about real people facing violence and abuse during a time of incredible vulnerability.

That's why it's no coincidence that in Ebadolahi's summary of the report, she opens with the story of Jahveel Ocampo, a 15-year-old mother who was seized at the border with her 2-year-old child, where she was allegedly slapped and threatened with sexual assault if she didn't agree to sign a paper allowing for her deportation.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

"If the abuses were this bad under Obama when the Border Patrol described itself as constrained, imagine how it must be now under Trump," Ebadolahi writes. After all, the Department of Homeland Security also this May released a shocking report admitting the government has "lost" 1,475 of the more than 7,000 minors taken into custody by border officials.

There are people in government working to make things better. On May 23, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California) and other congressional leaders held a rally in Washington, D.C., to support immigration and refugee policies that protect women and children.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

"This is about our children, and families, and whether we’re going to be a compassionate government or a cruel government," Harris said. "And I think we’re better than this."

It's important to support groups like the ACLU that hold powerful people and institutions accountable.

These stories are heartbreaking and unacceptable, but there are real ways to hold our government accountable and demand change.

Groups like the ACLU are more important than ever on issues like immigration, free speech, and digital privacy. They are tireless advocates for individuals without the financial or political power to make their voices heard.

The ACLU has received record amounts of funding since Trump's election and this report is just the latest example of how they're working to protect the most vulnerable members of society, giving voice to those who are often voiceless.

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Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

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