Judicial Watch announced on Thursday that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for records about assaults on and abuse of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) in HHS custody (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (No. 1:21-cv-01190)).
The lawsuit was filed against Health and Human Services after the HHS denied a February 26, 2021 FOIA request for:
- All summaries from individual case files of reports of physical and/or sexual abuse or assault of Unaccompanied Alien Children under the care of HHS, its sub-agencies, and or volunteer agencies, contractors, grantees, and sub-grantees, to include all segregable, non-exempt information.
- Records reflecting aggregated data of physical and/or sexual abuse and assault of UACs under the care of HHS, its sub-agencies, and or volunteer agencies, contractors, grantees, and sub-grantees.
Texas welfare officials received three reports of abuse and neglect at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, where more than 1,300 migrant children reportedly had been held. The site is one of several set up to handle the recent surge.
This report came on the heels of claims that multiple facilities where children are being held are unsafe.
“We are concerned that the surge of migrants seeking to take advantage of the Biden administration’s lax immigration policies has resulted in the foreseeable abuse of children, as overwhelmed federal authorities are ill-equipped to handle the huge number of children crossing the border. The unprecedented secrecy and censorship surrounding these sites compounds the problem and limits accountability,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Our lawsuit aims to expose the full truth about this particularly troubling consequence of the Biden administration’s lawlessness on immigration.”
Judicial Watch uncovered HHS records in July 2018 revealing that in multiple cases, UACs processed during the Obama administration were assaulted by government employees.
Judicial Watch began investigating this matter in 2014 when a wave of UACs swamped the southwest border. Since that time, Judicial Watch has been investigating incidents of violence, drug trafficking, human trafficking, and other criminal activities, as well as whether migrant children were being abused while in U.S. shelters.