The Orphans of the System

Migrant children who are abused in shelters and keep silent to not carry another label apart from that of “illegal”.

Arizona — “He touched me”, “he kissed me”, “he caressed between my legs”, “he rubbed my breasts” … “he raped me”. These are the declarations of dozens of migrant children who for years have suffered abuse in the centers to which the government of the United States has sent them. They are not refuges, no; for those minors, the shelters are just like hell. Nothing saves them … not even their confession. “Give me more details”, the authorities ask him and they feel violated again. For a child, describing how a caregiver’s hands rubbed his legs – or something else – is intimidating. In their homes they do not talk about it; never! And they were raised to be very macho. To recognize that they were abused is to admit that they failed, even though it was not their fault, even though they were forced. For girls it is devastating. Many of them bear the guilt imposed by culture and religion; they are educated to be submissive, to be silent, to endure what God sends them, although they do not understand why He did nothing to stop them. The silence and the indifference of their God hurts them, but now all they have is faith, in what? They, themselves don’t know in what to believe. Those children who suffer the trauma of family separation almost from the womb, are not only mistreated by employees of temporary shelters; They also abuse each other. They do not know how to react to the commotion and in the chaos, they find the courage to become the executioners of a vicious circle that kills them in life. Perhaps that happened recently in Arizona, when a 6-year-old girl reported being abused by another child and, according to reports, it was she who at her young age had to sign a commitment to stay away from her abuser. She who perhaps does not even know how to write, knows what hurts to lose her innocence … what little remained of it. Many of those children who came alone in 2014 have aged in the system and have been “rigged” because of the trauma. Others are just discovering the nightmare that surrounds the American dream of their parents, with those who just arrived and were separated at the border. A few (maybe very few) have dared to denounce and have been exposed. Others have managed that their abusers be “separated from office,” although long after they had been reported. In Arizona alone, two abuse cases of migrant children have been investigated in recent weeks; In one of them, the crimes began in 2015 along with the complicity of those involved. One of the suspects is HIV positive; the other, what some already call a predator. Both still without trial or sentence. And its victims in the fragile protection of anonymity and pain. Therefore, children prefer to avoid shame by keeping quiet. They think that if they do not tell it, it does not exist. They already have enough for being marked as undesirable, migrants, criminals or the poor, to carry the label of abused. They know that others have told and they have not believed them. They have known how abused children become liars before society because they are the orphans of the system and the cover of the sewer that is the big business of detention centers. The worst thing is when they say they deserved it, for coming like that, so shameless, so undocumented, so “illegal”. Double guilt, double penalty, double shame.