Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen gave a frightening glimpse into the sexual abuse crisis at the border when, during a Wednesday hearing, she revealed that all girls over the age of ten are given pregnancy tests when U.S. authorities take them into custody.
“The number of unaccompanied children is part of the humanitarian crisis,” Nielsen began, responding to a question from Democratic Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. “These are children whose parents decided to send them alone on a very, very dangerous journey at the hands of most often smugglers and coyotes or traffickers into the United States.”
Nielsen then went on to outline one of the specific threats posed to young girls, who were sent on the dangerous trek across Mexico, noting that all girls over the age of ten — even those traveling with people who claimed to be family members — were given pregnancy tests upon entering U.S. custody at the border. (RELATED: CBS Deleted Fact Check On Sexual Assaults. Two Months Later It’s Still MIA)
“We don’t want the smugglers to be able to convince parents to send their children on this perilous journey where they are absolutely victims of violence and abused,” Nielsen added.
She then appeared to reference recent reports in which migrants had alleged abuse while in U.S. custody and even at the hands of American authorities.
In combination with estimates from Doctors Without Borders and Amnesty International — which suggest up to two-thirds of all women suffer sexual abuse or assault on the journey across Mexico — it has become necessary for steps to be taken that would help to determine where along the journey any abuse or assault may have taken place.
“As you know, sir, very unfortunately, because of the increase in violence at ICE, when we have families with children, we have to give every girl a pregnancy test over ten. This is not a safe journey,” Nielsen concluded.