Update: Please attend the rally on June 24th!
“Beaten while handcuffed.”
“Locked up for long periods in solitary confinement.”
“Strapped…to chairs with bags placed over their heads.”
These are among the many shocking allegations leveled against a Virginia detention facility by immigrant children as young as 14-years-old, the Associated Press reported on Thursday, citing the first-hand accounts and sworn statements of abuse victims detailed in federal court filings.
“Whenever they used to restrain me and put me in the chair, they would handcuff me,” recounted one Honduran immigrant who was sent to the facility when he was 15-years-old. “Strapped me down all the way, from your feet all the way to your chest, you couldn’t really move… They have total control over you. They also put a bag over your head. It has little holes; you can see through it. But you feel suffocated with the bag on.”
A child-development specialist who worked inside the facility told the AP that she saw children with broken bones and bruises that they said were caused by abuse from guards.
According to the AP, many of the immigrant children detained at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center were arrested after federal immigration officials accused them of being gang members.
“But a top manager at the Shenandoah center said during a recent congressional hearing that the children did not appear to be gang members and were suffering from mental health issues resulting from trauma that happened in their home countries—problems the detention facility is ill-equipped to treat,” AP reported.
This summary is adapted from a piece by Jake Johnson at Common Dreams and is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
For more information on the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center apart from these allegations, see our information page here.
Apart from the Shenandoah Valley facility, there are numerous allegations of abuse in other immigrant detention facilities. See further information from the American Immigration Council, Human Rights Watch, and The Intercept.
Learn more about this issue
- Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse. (). Doe v Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center Commission.
- Washington Lawyers’ Committee (). “Wiley Rein and Washington Lawyers’ Committee File Fifth Amendment Complaint on Behalf of Immigrants Detained in Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center”.
- (). Lawsuit alleges abuse at Staunton juvenile facility. Staunton News Leader.
- Iovino, N. (). US Must Hold Hearings for Detained Immigrant Teenagers. courthousenews.com.
- Knadler, J. (). Inhumane Conditions Alleged at Juvenile Detention Center Near Staunton. WMRA.
- Knadler, J. (). Tales of Self-Harm, Suicide Attempts at Valley Detention Center for Immigrant Children. WMRA.
- Robbins, L. (). Young Immigrants Are Being Held Illegally, Lawsuit Claims. New York Times.
- Knadler, J. (). Advocates Say Teen Migrants Need Help, Not Detention Facilities. NPR.
- Kotch, A. (). Trump Administration Using Contractors Accused of Abuse to Detain Undocumented Children. TYT Investigates.
- Thompson, G. (). Listen to Children Who’ve Just Been Separated From Their Parents at the Border. ProPublica.
- Ellis, B., Hicken, M, & Ortega, B. (). Children allege grave abuse at migrant detention facilities. CNN.
- Biesecker, M., Pearson, J., & Burke, G. (). Young immigrants detained in Shenandoah center allege abuse. Associated Press.
- Yang, J, & Biesecker, M. (). Immigrant teens placed in Virginia detention facility say they were beaten while restrained, isolated for days. PBS News Hour.
- Planas, R. & Miller, H. (). Migrant Children Report Physical, Verbal Abuse In At Least 3 Federal Detention Centers. Huffington Post.
- (). Deep dive: Key juvenile center lawsuit documents. Staunton News Leader.
- Kempler, C. (). Young Immigrants Detained in Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center Allege Abuse. WVIR-TV NBC29.
- (). These immigrant children risked everything to seek asylum in America. Staunton News Leader.
- Cummings, W. (). Migrant children describe abuse, being forcibly medicated at youth shelters: lawsuit. USA Today.
- Ryan, L. (). Immigrant Kids Say They Were Strapped to Chairs, Left Naked in Detention Center. The Cut.
- Ortiz, E. (). 500 children separated from families have been reunited since May, officials claim. NBC News.
- (). After a wild ride on immigration, some real lessons to learn. Staunton News Leader.
- Biesecker, M. (). Latino teens who alleged abuse at center no longer in US. Associated Press.
- Pearson, J. (). Hope, despair in poetry by immigrant children in U.S. lockup. Associated Press.
- Anonymous. (). Immigration controversy strikes home. Daily Progress. Charlottesville, Virginia.
- Leweke, B. Juvenile Center Allegations… Voices of the Enslaved. WMRA.
- Anonymous. (). The Latest: Lawyer pressing forward on Va. abuse claims. Associated Press.
- Stewart, E. (). The multibillion-dollar business of sheltering migrant children, explained. Vox.
- (). Here’s what our local officials think about the alleged youth immigration abuse in Staunton. Staunton News Leader.
- Anonymous. (). Va. governor orders probe into juvenile facility. Associated Press.
- Biesecker, M., Pearson, J., & Burke, G. (). Governor orders probe of abuse claims by immigrant children. Associated Press.
- Biesecker, M. (). Democratic senators seek answers after immigrant children allege abuse at Virginia facility. USA Today.
- Warner, M. R., & Kaine, T. (). Letter on Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center (Open Letter).
- Press Release. (). Sens. Warner and Kaine ask for answers on Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center. NewsRadio WINA.
- Kempler, C. (). U.S. Senators Demanding More Info on Accusations Against SVJC. WVIR-TV NBC29.
- Shelbourne, M. (22 June 2018). Virginia Dems want answers on alleged detention center abuse. The Hill.
- Meyer, S. H. (). Former teacher at Juvenile Center speaks out. Staunton News Leader.
- Cline, B. (). Ben Cline statement regarding Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center.
Local protest news coverage
- Fair, J. (). Several protests announced to call attention to alleged juvenile center abuses. Staunton News Leader.
- Stuart, B. (). Demonstrators gather to protest Trump policies. The News Virginian.
- Fair, J., & Schwaner, J. (). Protest at Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center about more than the lawsuit. Staunton News Leader.
- Marcus, H. (). June 23 SVJC rally [Photo gallery]. Staunton News Leader.
- Fair, J. (). Second juvenile center rally calls to ‘stop torturing children’. Staunton News Leader.
- Langlitz, R. (). Dozens protest outside detention center amid teenage immigrant abuse allegations. WSET Lynchburg.
- Stuart, B. (). Second day of immigration protests held. The News Virginian.
- DeLuca, P. (). Protesters Rally outside the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center. WVIR-TV NBC29.
- Carlton, B., & Stuart, B. (). Undocumented children held in Verona facility. Roanoke Times.
- C.H.A.R.G.E. Unit Press Release. (). Gang Task Force Arrests MS13 Member in Harrisonburg. WVIR-TV NBC29.
- Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (). “Transfers of ICE Detainees from the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center”. Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.
- Miller, M. E. (). A teen in MS-13 was detained at the border and held for years. Washington Post.
- Tsui, Anjali (). In Crackdown on MS-13, a New Detention Policy Raises Alarms. PBS.
- Wong, Kelsey R. (). Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center’s program director outlines role. Staunton News Leader.
- Nilsen, E. ().Kids who cross the border meet with therapists and social workers. What they say can be used against them. Vox.
- Garrison, E., & Chabria, A. (). Yolo County considers scrapping contract with feds to lock up undocumented teens Sacramento Bee.
- Ternus-Bellamy, A. (). County to keep immigrant-youth dentention contract for now. Davis Enterprise. Yolo County, California.
- Robertson, K. (). County strains to care for detainees’ needs. Davis Enterprise. Yolo County, California.
- Bellamy, B. (). Keep the ORR Program in Yolo County. Winters Express.
- Ternus-Bellamy, A. (). County to decide fate of ORR contract on refugee minors. Davis Enterprise. Yolo County, California.