Lawsuit Alleges National Guard Sent to Protect Migrants at New York Relief Centers Engaged in Sexual Exploitation

Credits: CAJ

Allegations of sexual exploitation, violence, and neglect have emerged against some National Guard members and relief workers contracted to care for asylum seekers in New York, as detailed in a federal lawsuit filed recently.

The lawsuit, seeking nearly $10 million and a jury trial, outlines incidents of abuse and neglect, particularly centered around the Quality Inn in Cheektowaga, near the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, where a Humanitarian Emergency Relief and Response Center was established for asylum-seekers by the controversial contractor DocGo.

One distressing episode described in the lawsuit involves a National Guard sergeant allegedly taking advantage of a migrant woman and her children, coercing her into performing sexual favors in exchange for assistance.

US Law Court (Credits: Britannica)

The complaint paints a grim picture of exploitation, violence, and substandard living conditions, including incidents of assault, sexual harassment, and infestations affecting the well-being of shelter guests, particularly vulnerable women and children.

Responding to the lawsuit, Governor Kathy Hochul’s office emphasized a commitment to ensuring safety and accountability, indicating that the New York National Guard’s independent disciplinary process would be followed.

Similarly, the Division of Military and Naval Affairs pledged to take all allegations seriously and initiate appropriate actions as per regulations and state laws.

DocGo, the contracting company implicated in the allegations, asserted its dedication to maintaining safety and conducting thorough internal investigations into misconduct allegations. The company emphasized cooperation with authorities and pledged transparency in addressing concerns raised.

Last summer, amidst a surge in migrant arrivals, Governor Hochul deployed National Guard forces to hotels in Cheektowaga’s Erie County, responding to public outcry over reported incidents of sexual violence involving asylum seekers.

The military presence aimed to provide stability and support in addressing community concerns. The New York Attorney General’s Office initiated an investigation into DocGo following heightened scrutiny over its handling of migrant affairs and financial matters.

While the investigation is ongoing, the company has committed to full cooperation with regulatory authorities.

These developments underscore the challenges and complexities surrounding the treatment and care of asylum seekers, highlighting the need for robust oversight, accountability, and safeguarding mechanisms to protect the rights and dignity of vulnerable individuals seeking refuge and assistance.

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