Things That Matter

An Undocumented Girl From Guatemala Was Locked In A Room And Sexually Assaulted By Relatives, According To A Report

TW: This story contains disturbing anecdotes of sexual violence.

Arizona’s Customs and Border Patrol Agency (CBP) announced the arrest of an Iowa couple for human smuggling and sexual assault after a Guatemalan girl was found in the streets of Sioux City and told her story to authorities. The girl, whose name will not be released for her own safety, is being referred as  “ABF” on the federal affidavit detailing the perpetrator’s charges. Amy Francisco and her husband, Cristobal Francisco-Nicolas have been arrested and charged.

The couple was arrested in San Diego, but will likely face a federal court in Iowa.

ABF was found wandering Sioux City, urgently telling pedestrians she’d been sexually assaulted.

Credit: @CBPArizona / Twitter

From there, Sioux City police interviewed ABF to learn that she and her father, Fernando Bartolo-Francisco were smuggled into the U.S. by relatives, Cristobal Francisco-Nicolas and his wife Amy Francisco. She said they were released from El Paso Detention Center because of overcrowding and were flown to Omaha by their relatives.

The couple then locked ABF in a room with a metal bed and a bucket for a bathroom.

Google Images

Above is a Google image of the couple’s home where she was allegedly locked in. The affidavit said that, “ABF then stated Cristobal raped her and that Amy watched it happen from the door to the locked room. After being raped five times, ABF stated that one morning Cristobal left for work and did not lock the door.”

She then snuck out of the house while Amy Francisco was sleeping. She roamed the streets looking for someone who spoke Spanish to help her. 

The Iowa couple admitted to smuggling ABF in but requested an attorney when law enforcement began questioning them for the alleged rape of ABF.

Credit: @mosettastone / Twitter

Francisco-Nicolas told police that he made arrangements for a coyote to transfer the father and daughter to the U.S. after learning through his sister that they were desperate to leave Guatemala. 

“Cristobal stated he knows he messed up and the mistake he made was receiving these people,” the affidavit said. “Cristobal requested an attorney when law enforcement began to question him about the alleged rape of ABF.”

In response, some folks are taking the opportunity to demand CBP shut down the concentration camps and seek justice for victims within the system.

Credit: @johuyik / Twitter

In February 2019, a report was released that detailed thousands of immigrant children saying they were sexually abused in U.S. detention centers. Between 2012 and March 2018 alone, there were 1,448 allegations of sexual abuse filed with ICE. Certainly, not every victim files a complaint. 

Last year, the ACLU helped an asylum-seeker from Honduras file suit against an employee at a detention center for failure to protect her from sexual violence.

Untitled. Digital Image. ACLU. 17 July 2019

 Court documents detail how her abuser threatened her with possible deportation while their coworkers stood by and continued the jokes. There are laws in place that criminalize any kind of sexual behavior between a correctional facility staff member and the people in their custody. That’s because consent cannot happen when powers are imbalanced. This facility is still trying to deflect responsibility by saying the detainee “consented.”

Some people are taking the opportunity to blame Democrats for ABF’s assault.

Credit: @THE_DAILY_BLEAT / Twitter

Given that ICE and CBP are not being held accountable by anyone. That fact, among many others including the conditions of the camps themselves, has incited public outrage, nationwide protests, and finger-pointing on both sides of the aisle. 

Everyone seems to agree on one thing: prosecute.

Credit: @CAWPBT / Twitter

Folks who don’t want to see immigrants in this country are weaponizing the tragedy by alleging it as cause to close the border. Folks who care about immigrants see the instance as a clear example of why undocumented immigrants should be granted basic rights that would allow ABF’s father to be lawfully employed and to live openly.

The culture of fear for undocumented immigrants makes them among the most vulnerable members of our society. ABF was not registered with a school. Her father couldn’t go to authorities without risking deportation. It’s clear that an undocumented child wouldn’t go looking for the police unless her claims were valid. 

Yes, prosecute these individuals, and also make it safer for every family to exist without harm.

READ: Major Hotel Chains Are Rolling Out Panic Buttons To Protect Their Employees From Sexual Assault

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