Reports of sexual and physical abuse in detention centers aren’t new, but a series of handwritten letters by migrant youth in detention centers offer a closer look at the violence and neglect children experience during their journeys to the US and while locked up in immigration holding centers.
Spanish-language network Univision obtained a dozen letters from children, between the ages of 13 and 17, who denounced the inhumane conditions, which one described as “torment,” at the “hieleras” or “perreras,” Spanish for holding cells. Each of the youths spoke under the condition of anonymity.
One migrant teen said she was “treated badly” and “starved” under US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), also noting that agents spoke to her “with demeaning and discriminatory words.” Another child added that youth who became ill weren’t treated; instead, they were placed in confinement
One teenage girl, who said she spent five days in a cell sick, confirmed the allegation.
“I was sick, I asked for help and they did not offer it to me,” she wrote. “There were babies crying, sick children. We only bathed one time since we arrived. I had a very bad time, they treated us badly, they woke us up all the time.”
One of the unaccompanied minors said the young migrants “didn’t have anything to sleep on” and that they “couldn’t bathe themselves.”
Outside a shelter in Mexico, where one boy stopped during his journey to the US, he said he was sexually abused while begging for food. The child left the Casa del Migrante in Tijuana, Baja to ask strangers for donations so he could pay for food. That’s when one man stopped and coerced him into a sexual exchange.
“He told me, ‘I want you to do something to me that I want with you,’” the boy noted in his letter. “Well, he took me to a hotel room. He told me, ‘bathe.’ I bathed and then he forced me to have sex with him because I was hungry, well, the necessity. He forced me because I was very hungry. And I had to do it not because I wanted to, but because he forced me. Well, everything happened and he gave me money. For me it was very dirty, but the necessity [to eat] led me to do it.”
As a result of the violence they experienced during their trek north and while in US detention centers, some teens expressed an interest in doing work in their new country to help unaccompanied minors like themselves.
“My dream is to study to be a lawyer so that I can help migrants from other countries to achieve their dream as I am fulfilling my dream,” one undocumented teen wrote.
She added: “My dream is to be a lawyer because I know it’s hard to leave our country.”
According to United States guidelines, unaccompanied youth must be released from Border Patrol facilities within 72 hours, where they are then required to be transferred to the United States Department of Health & Human Services, which places the children with a sponsor. Currently, there are tens of thousands of youth at CBP facilities along the border.
Texas is seeing an unprecedented weather crisis as much of the state is plunged into bitterly cold conditions. But that hasn’t stopped many migrants and refugees from attempting to cross into the U.S. for protection.
Many migrants cross the Rio Grande (or Río Bravo en Mexico) between Texas and the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. Crossing the Rio Grande is always a dangerous undertaking but now, thanks to the freezing weather, it’s an especially perilous journey and it’s claimed the life of another child.
An 8-year-old boy has drowned while crossing the river with his family.
Authorities have reported that an 8-year-old Honduran boy has become the latest victim in a string of drownings at the Rio Grande, between the the U.S. and Mexico. Despite the unprecedented weather, migrants continue to attempt to cross the dangerous river to reach the U.S.
The child was with his family attempting to cross the river when he drowned on Wednesday, just as Texas was gripped by Arctic conditions which have killed more than 30 people and left millions in Mexico and Texas without power, water and food. The boy’s parents and sister apparently made it to the U.S., but were returned to Mexico by U.S. Border Patrol.
According to Mexican immigration officials, the boy “couldn’t withstand the pounding water, which covered him and kept him submerged for several meters”. His body was recovered but attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.
The Rio Grande is notoriously dangerous for people attempting to cross the border.
The journey across the Rio Grande has always been a perilous one, with hundreds of people, many of whom could not swim, having drowned over the years after being caught by the deceptively deep waters and strong current.
Add in the current winter storm currently blanketing the entire state of Texas, has produced significant snow and prolonged freezing temperatures, has made the crossing even more dangerous.
In fact, earlier in the week, the river had claimed another victim. A woman from Venezuela died trying to cross the river in the same area after getting trapped in below-freezing currents. Three others suffered hypothermia: one was treated by the Red Cross in Mexico, while the other two made it the US border.
Drownings are just one of the dangers migrants face.
Apart from the potential for drownings, migrants face a wide range of dangerous while attempting to cross from Mexico into the U.S. In late January, 19 bodies were found shot and burned in a vehicle near the town of Camargo, also across the border from Texas.
There’s also the threat of violence from drug cartels and smugglers, corrupt officials, and other extreme elements, such as heat during the summer.
Well, well, so you’re in the midst of new love and wondering if it’s too good to be true. Things are going astonishingly well and not only is your new guy or girl a perfect match they’re super into you to the point that they’re almost TOO into you. Attentive, charming, selfless in bed, they tick off all of the boxes and so much more. Almost to the point that their constant texts, calls, and gifts are a little overwhelming.
While it might be possible that your new love is really just a loving charmer, it’s possible that you might have found yourself in the path of a love bomber.
To find the red flags of love bomber we turned to Reddit where users had quite a bit of insight.
Check them out below!
“I think there’s a lot of overlap. Looking back at the time when I fell in love there was a ton of despair, loneliness and unmet emotional needs underneath all the surface level eager happiness and wanting to connect. She became the focus of my intense unconscious fantasy of being rescued from my childhood rut, and I became the focus of her similar fantasies. It wasn’t a respectful way of approaching another person and we didn’t actually get to know each other much during that honeymoon period, or even during most of the relationship that followed – although it took me a while to realize this. There were some disturbing similarities with addiction (which I’ve also experienced in various forms). That realization eventually, painfully, allowed me to see that I’d only drifted along the flow of falling in love in the first place because I didn’t understand myself well enough to know what was motivating me: a desperate hunger and pain from being emotionally abandoned by my parents when I was little. I wanted someone to be the perfectly loving parent I never had. So now I’m spending a lot of my available energy on understanding myself, trying to meet those unmet needs in healthy ways, and just having a better relationship with myself in general. I like to think of it as adopting the scared, hurt, ashamed child inside me and being the kind parent he needs. (It’s much easier said than done.) I’ve given myself an indefinite break from romantic or sexual relationships to get the space and clarity I need in order to do this work. Maybe some people reading this will think I’m just avoiding intimacy because it scares me. But knowing my own history of getting emotionally and physically involved with someone when my childhood traumas were still so raw and unhealed, knowing how much confusion, tension, self-compromising, resentment and subtle boundary violation there was, I feel there really is something to be scared of.” –beaaycan
“When you are with a person, are you still you? If you don’t know, ask your friends. Do you find that you change your favorite music to their favorite music without really thinking about if you do like it? And food, and movies and other stuff? Do you make yourself into the person they want you to be, or try to do this? Or do you both challenge each other to keep being you and find ways to be you, more and better?
When you want to spend time alone, does the other person respect your request? Or do they invade and have a reason like they just couldn’t keep away? Because while that sounds romantic, it is manipulative and puts their wants over your request/need for alone time.
When you want to spend time with your friends, does the other person whine and pout or respect your desire to have more people in your life than just a Significant Other? Normal is having friends besides the romantic interest and spending time with all of them, sometimes together and sometimes on your own. Does the person complain about your friends and not want to share you? Bad sign.
Seriously, the best advice I ever heard is to become friends before you become romantic. Romantic stuff can hide the other stuff that you need to know. If someone can give you the respect to be friends first, you have a better chance at long term.
And seriously, I have been nearly forty years with my spouse, and the romance and affection and time together and expressing feelings and messaging and all, it doesn’t stop, and it isn’t better at the beginning of the relationship. It’s new then, but if you can hold on through the hard times, it is better later.” –blueberryyogurtcup
“The key is how the person you’re with treats and speaks about other people. Pay particular attention to how they talk about and deal with exes.
If they’re a perpetual victim – their boss is always on their case, the ex screwed them over, they put other people down viciously but you’re ‘different’ – then you’ll be next once the bubble bursts. On the other hand, if you’ve got someone around who owns their part in breaking up with their ex/still has positive contact with them, wants to actively introduce you to their friends and social circle and is interested in your friends and family on more than just a superficial level, you can probably assume they’re genuine. If they take responsibility for their behaviour in minor disagreements rather than saying stuff like ‘you’re making me angry’ or putting your opinion down and they seek a ‘win-win’ resolution, then you can probably assume that they’re not bullshitting you. I had a friend who spent two years in a relationship with a guy she worked with (her mum worked there too!!!) and had no clue he was living with another woman 5 days a week! My friend would stay the weekend and the other woman would stay the rest of the week and there was a third woman in another city!!!! He just wove convincing lies about what he was doing during the time he wasn’t with her.
Key things that I think she should have picked up – he never showed interest in or met her friends, she didn’t really meet his, he didn’t make weekday plans with her – yet they worked in the same office-, there was a locked storage room in his flat he never opened in front of her, and he made no effort to move their situation forward. After all, if you had an interested, committed partner who worked beside you, wouldn’t you expect you’d consider moving in together to save on commuting costs, invite friends over, plan a holiday and open a joint bank ac for bills?
If a person’s behaviour doesn’t seem committed or logical, move on.” –AugustaG
“I think you have to give it time. Love bombing can only last so long before an N’s true colors start to shine. Don’t make any big commitments (like, a week in Mexico, moving in together, or getting engaged) for at least 6 months. And seriously don’t get engaged for at least 2 years. Moving in… 2 years is also good, but 1 year might be acceptable. It can take a couple years before you truly see someone at their worst, and that is when you know if it’s real love or not.” –nobelle
“I agree, it’s a matter of time frame (although that’s not even a guarantee). And in that time frame, there will be other red flags popping up every now and then. I think it’s not discrete characteristics, but patterns that describe a relationship.” –what-a-freaking-mess
“Mine used to do this all the time and I realized even in the love bombing stage it was all self serving. Sending me flowers non stop to the point where I got tired of them and then all I ever heard was, “What are the girls in the office saying?” Because HIS image of being the romantic sweet bf was more important.” – anonvic21
“Love bombing includes the N posturing to seem to be similar to you and have shared interests. However, if they are faking it they will lack any depth of knowledge about the topics they enthuse about… at least until they have time away from you to research it. What’s very telling is to watch them interact with your acquaintances who share your interests (but maybe some you haven’t mentioned yet) and see if they enthuse the same way about those things when they’re not addressing you. Love bombing includes a lot of someone else telling you how great you are, perhaps how much better you are than existing or prior SO’s. Also a lot of the N presenting self as whatever they perceive as desirable– attractive, wealthy, knowledgeable, accomplished… Consider is this person being so thoughtful and kind to you also considerate of their co-workers and the people who they interact with as service providers? How does the person deal with you saying no? Such as, rejecting their proposed plan, or refusing to answer something, or just expressing resistance in some way. N’s can’t cope with it.” –entropys_child
“I personally consider it a red flag because how can someone know me well enough to like every little thing about me from the word go? Why do they feel the need for so many compliments when actions speak louder than words? I think it comes either from a place of low self-confidence or manipulation. The person doing the love bombing hopes that the constant stream of attention, compliments, interests, etc. makes the person so enamored that they want this level of praise all the time. Then the love bomber stops or changes their tune which make the person who used to getting flattered being criticized or ignored.” –HeraBeara
“It’s basically a control and manipulation tactic. Some forms as I’ve known them is gifts or always paying for “fancy” dates out very early in courtship. Constant communication or contact such as liking your social media posts within seconds. Usually followed by pressure for a commitment within the first week or two; As I’ve known it my love-bomber demanded I delete my OLD account and then 2 days later tried to manipulate me into saying “I love you” and when I requested he slow down I got dumped.
It means shallow emotions because real love takes a while to develop and the first few weeks of dating are still the infatuation period. Also as I’ve experienced it the love bomber will say you’re beautiful when you just woke up with a touch of the flu and have eye boogies. Usually you’re bombarded with things like that along with being unique in understanding them, special, soulmate, gorgeous, the most beautiful person on Earth … once you’re hooked they start to chip away at you with constant critiques of things they once saw as awe inspiring in you. (ie: why do you always have gross eye boogies when you wake up!?!?” –Reddit User
“It’s actually considered a form of emotional abuse in extreme examples. Often times it’s part of the grooming process an abuser uses to pick their victim and prep them. It happens in all sorts of relationships, not just romantic.Imagine a lonely person, who meets someone who flatters and woos them. They hear everything they’ve been wanting to hear. So they open up, become vulnerable and then can be deeply hurt in many ways.” – Reddit User
“I experienced this [in] my marriage. I was the most wonderful creature on earth and he was Mr Perfect until we married. He openly told me “I decided to marry you the minute I saw you and I was going to say and do anything to make sure you wanted to marry me too”… And then every time I wanted to leave or left, Mr Charming and all his false promises came out for a week or two… And then things went back to normal. Lather rinse repeat. And apparently I was the bad person for not liking the ‘real’ him.
So, I’m very wary of too many syrupy compliments, moving quickly, pressure of any kind.” – Reddit User