Two teenage sisters from Guatemala crossed the border asking for help. They were sexually assaulted by a US Customs officer.
The teen sisters crossed the US border into Texas. Wednesday, the ACLU said a Customs cop sexually assaulted them after leading them to believe he would help them.
They say they got lost. That’s why they needed help from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent. The assault happened July 2016, when the teens were 17 and 19.
He took the sisters to a Presidio field office. One at a time, they were taken to a small, “closet-like” room. The ACLU reports that they were told completely undress.
Clarita, the older sister, spoke at an ACLU press conference. She expressed how much sadness and pain was caused to her in that closet.
“What h”I’m telling my story because I don’t want anyone else to go through this. I hope the officer will be honest about what he did and take responsibility for his actions.
“This is the only way we’ll be able to ensure this never happens again,” she said.
The sisters reported the assaults shortly after it occurred to another CBP officer, and an investigation was launched by the Department of Homeland Security. Federal authorities have not pursued criminal charges against the officer, according to the ACLU.
In two claims filed with the federal government, the ACLU states that the two sisters continue to suffer “severe emotional distress.”
“CBP must be held accountable for its officer’s sexual abuse of these vulnerable victims,” ACLU lawyer Angélica Salceda said. “There has been no criminal prosecution against the officer involved. CBP is not above the law, and its abuses of power must not be tolerated.”
Clarita wrote in a blog post on Wednesday that the sisters were determined to escape Guatemala, and understood that arrest and deportation were a possibility. They felt confident that “no one would hurt us” for the first time in years.
She described the horrific attack in detail.
“The CBP officer took me to what seemed like a closet,” she wrote. “The room had no windows or furniture and had food in it. It seemed like a pantry, which made me wonder why he brought me here. The whole situation felt strange from the beginning.”
After sexually assaulting them, the officer gave the sisters chocolates and potato chips in an attempt to calm them down, according to Clarita.
“We thought we had left a world of violence and oppression, only to realize immigration enforcement officers in the United States appeared to be no different than law enforcement in our home country, abusing the tremendous power and responsibility that comes with their job,” she wrote.
The sisters are living with their mother in Fresno, Calif.