YOLO COUNTY (CBS13) — Assaulted and abused in federal immigration custody. Those are the allegations highlighted in a recently filed complaint regarding undocumented minors.
The federal lawsuit is shedding some light on allegations of disturbing conditions inside immigrant detention facilities for migrant teens who are found without their parents. The lawsuit claims patterns of torture and abuse of immigrant children inside an East Coast detention facility, and though not the same types of allegations, CBS13 found claims of other kinds of problems inside a similar detention facility in the Sacramento area.
Immigrant teens have allegedly been abused, beaten and handcuffed inside the Shenandoah Valley Detention Facility in Virginia. That’s according to accusations outlined in this federal lawsuit. Multiple children say they were handcuffed, strapped to chairs and restrained with hoods over their faces. One child said he was left strapped to a chair, naked, for more than two days. Others describe being stabbed and poked with pens.
Kelsey Wong, a program director at the Shenandoah Valley Detention Facility, said in recent congressional testimony that children may have been incorrectly classified as gang members before being brought to the facility.
“And then when they came into our care, and they were assessed by our clinical and case management staff, they didn’t necessarily meet those. They weren’t necessarily identified as gang-involved individuals,” said Wong.
A secured detention facility for unaccompanied and undocumented minors that some say is more like a prison. The only other one like it in the country that’s contracted with the Office of Refugee Resettlement, is much closer to home in Woodland.
The Yolo County Detention Facility has also been in the legal spotlight recently. The chief probation officer of Yolo County is one in a long list of plaintiffs named in a federal lawsuit filed by the ACLU last August, alleging undocumented minors were stripped of their rights, interrogated by ICE officers without counsel present and incorrectly classified as gang members.
CBS13 spoke briefly with Yolo County Supervisor Jim Provenza about the lawsuit who said the county is basically in agreement with the ACLU that no one’s rights should be violated.
The Virginia facility declined to comment but said in a statement the allegations in the complaint are without merit.