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Teen Describes Having To Sleep Standing Up In Yuma Detention Center

Teenagers tried to take care of the little ones because the guards wouldn't, he told NBC News reporter Julia Ainsley.
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NBC News continues their outstanding reporting on the treatment of asylum-seeking immigrants, and this morning, Julia Ainsley reported on her interview with Abner, a 17-year-old detainee from Guatemala. He was held at the Yuma facility for 11 days.

"Julia, incredible that this continues," Mika Brzezinski said.

"It was. It was incredible that Abner took the time and had the courage to sit down with us. It's so rare, Mika, to get immigrants to talk to us. Especially because they have a fear of being targeted for deportation. And let alone a child that took an enormous amount of bravery on his part to sit down with us. And of course that's why we're not showing his face or sharing his last name," Ainsley said.

"But I think what he got into when he talks about his treatment by the guards shows more than a government has been willing to admit when it comes to the retaliation. He talked about asking what time it was because of course he didn't know because the lights were always on, and he was mocked. They said, 'Why, do you have a meeting to get to?' And he talked about the guards yelling at him and others if they got too close to the windows and being denied food if they needed more. We talked about the soap, the bathing conditions but he kept going back to food, which is an even more basic human need.

"So Mika, that perfectly shows you how these older children, the 16, 17-year-olds had to care for what they called the little ones because they didn't have the food. He thought he could stand the hunger. He could stand standing up. He had to stand up for his first 48 hours trying to sleep because they were so concerned about these little children, because the guards weren't taking care of them. He said when they would cry out, the guards would get more angry so the people in his cell had to band together to take care of the little children.

"Now, I will say that we have reached out to DHS and Customs and Border Protection about the allegations. They say they're reviewing it. any allegations of misconduct -- of any misconduct would be referred to the Office of Professional Responsibility but that they don't believe that the time that Abner was there, these 11 days from late May to early June, that the conditions were as he described it."


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