ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico’s lone congresswoman said Friday she fears detained immigrant women and children aren’t getting the required legal representation or proper health care.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., said immigration authorities will start giving migrant girls as young as 9 years old pregnancy tests since many girls are reportedly being raped on their way to the United States.
“We are seeing 11-year-old girls testing positive for being pregnant,” said Lujan Grisham, who believes the children should have access to doctors. “So, we need to start testing them even younger now.”
The Albuquerque Democrat this week visited a temporary detention facility in Artesia and met with advocates along the U.S.-Mexico border to discuss the humanitarian crisis due to a surge of Central American migrants.
Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, is scheduled to tour the Artesia facility on Saturday morning along with some federal and state officials.
After touring the barracks of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Lujan Grisham said she was impressed that security personnel were protecting the privacy of the immigrants suspected of entering the country illegally.
However, Lujan Grisham said she was convinced that the migrants weren’t getting the legal protections guaranteed under a 2008 federal law aiming at combatting human trafficking.
Passed during the last days of President George W. Bush’s term, the law provides certain protections to children entering the country alone who are not from Canada or Mexico. It also gives the children a chance to appear at an immigration hearing and meet with an advocate, and recommends the minors have access to a lawyer.
“I’m worried that we didn’t meet our legal requirements when we deported 40 people this week,” she said, referring to the Central American women and children sent rom Artesia to Honduras on Monday.
Obama administration officials said Friday that Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas have found fewer than 500 children crossing the border illegally this week. Last month, agents arrested as many as 2,000 child immigrants a week.