For the first time, President Trump addressed the finding that the federal government still cannot find the parents of 545 children separated at the border. At Thursday’s presidential debate, Mr. Trump claimed his administration is working to reunite children with their parents, but also claimed the children in U.S. custody have been “so well taken care of.” 

Advocates have been unable to reach the parents of 545 children who were separated by U.S. immigration authorities at the southern border and who could be eligible for court-mandated reunifications, according to a joint legal filing earlier this week by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Justice Department.

Mr. Trump started off answering by claiming it was the Obama administration, not the Trump administration, that built the “cages” for children. Pressed further, the president claimed he does have a plan but a lot of children came to the U.S. without their parents, many brought by coyotes, or a person who smuggles people across the border. 

Democratic nominee Joe Biden responded that what the Trump administration was “criminal.”

Mr. Trump claimed the children “were so well taken care of” in U.S. facilities. 

But that has not been the case for many children. 

Thousands of migrant children have allegedly suffered sexual abuse while in U.S. government custody over the past four years, according to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) documents released last year by Florida Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch. 

According to the documents, over a thousand allegations of sexual abuse against unaccompanied minors in HHS custody were reported to federal authorities each fiscal year since 2015. In total, between October 2014 and July 2018, 4,556 sexual abuse complaints were reported to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) — an agency within HHS in charge of caring for unaccompanied migrant minors. 

Amna Nawaz, a reporter with PBS News Hour, offered her own perspective on Twitter. 

“President Trump said the separated children were ‘so well taken care of.’ I’ve been inside the border processing centers where many kids and families were held. They were under resourced. Crowded. Staff overwhelmed. Groups of young kids crammed into windowless rooms,” she wrote.

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