ALBUQUERQUE — New Mexico’s lone congresswoman said Friday she fears detained immigrant women and children aren’t getting required legal representation or proper health care.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham said immigration authorities will start giving migrant girls as young as 9 years old pregnancy tests in light of many reports of girls being raped on their way to the United States.
“We are seeing 11-year-old girls testing positive for being pregnant, so we need to start testing them even younger now,” Lujan Grisham said, adding that she believes the children need access to doctors.
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 resulting from a surge of Central American migrants.
Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, is scheduled to tour the Artesia facility 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 how security personnel were protecting the privacy of the immigrants suspected of entering the country illegally.
However, Lujan Grisham said she was convinced the migrants weren’t receiving certain legal protections as required under a 2008 federal law aiming at combatting human trafficking.
Passed during the last days of President George W. Bush’s term, the law gave certain protections to children from countries other than Canada or Mexico entering the United States alone. It also gave the children a chance to appear at an immigration hearing and meet with an advocate. The bill also recommended 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 deported from 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.