Texas Gov. Greg Abbott revealed there are “very credible allegations” of children being mistreated and sexually abused at a migrant facility in San Antonio. During a Wednesday press conference, Abbott called for the Biden administration to shut down the migrant facility at the Freeman Coliseum Expo Center in San Antonio and petitioned that the children be transferred to other federally run facilities.
“The Biden administration has caused this crisis and has repeatedly failed to address it,” Abbott proclaimed. “The Biden administration opened borders. The administration failed to plan for the influx of children that they invited to come. Now they face allegations of despicable child abuse and neglect. This must end.”
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services both received tips that migrant children were being abused at the Freeman Coliseum.
“Children at this facility are being sexually assaulted,” Abbott claimed. “Second, there are not enough staff to safely supervise the children at this facility. Third, some children in this facility are not eating throughout the day. And fourth, children with COVID are not being physically separated from children without COVID.”
“We don’t know the total number of children abused,” the Republican governor of Texas said.
“It is my understanding, the allegations come from more than one person who has been in this facility,” Abbott said at the news conference outside of the Freeman Coliseum.
“To end this abuse, the Biden administration must immediately shut down this facility,” Abbott declared. “The children who are in this facility should be moved to other federally run facilities where the federal government has the space, personnel, and resources to ensure their safety.”
“The Biden administration has already said they have other locations across the entire country,” Abbott said. “Certainly they must have locations that have better staff, better safety measures, and situations where children would not be subject to abuse like this.”
“Thousands of children have already been sent to multiple locations across the state of Texas, and from every location that I’ve have heard about in the state of Texas the number of children far exceeds what is allowed by law,” Abbott added.
“President Biden’s disastrous decisions caused this crisis, and his administration must act now to protect these children, secure the border, and end this crisis,” Abbott said in a press release.
Abbott has ordered the Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Rangers to open an “immediate” investigation into the accusations. The investigation will be headed by Richard Henderson, senior Texas Rangers lieutenant.
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg described the allegations as “disturbing if true” and called for a “thorough investigation.”
A White House spokesperson responded to the allegations of maltreatment of illegal immigrants on Wednesday night.
“The Biden Administration takes the safety and well-being of children in its care very seriously,” the White House statement reads. “Currently we see no basis for Governor Abbott’s call to shut down the San Antonio Freeman Coliseum as an intake site, however, his claims will be looked into and investigated by the Department of Health and Human Services.”
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said he was skeptical of the accusations.
“I’ve been out there, I’ve seen what’s going on,” Wolff told KENS. “They’re getting three hot meals a day, they’re getting two snacks a day. There’s a separate tent where up to 300 of them are cohorted if they do have COVID.”
“Health and Human Services (representatives) are out there, Homeland Security is out there, Federal Protective Services is out there. They’ve got … different agencies. CDC’s out there,” Wolff said. “I’ve not heard anything until the governor came down and said this. I just don’t know if it’s true or not, what he’s saying.”
The first 500 migrant boys arrived at the facility on March 29 from El Paso during the illegal immigration surge. The minors, ages 13 to 17 years old, received a medical screening, clothes, toiletries, and food, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. As of Wednesday, the Freeman facility was housing 1,645 minors, 283 of whom have tested positive for coronavirus and “remain in medical isolation,” HHS officials told KENS.
Up to 2,100 migrant children could be housed at the Freeman Coliseum, Bexar County officials told KSAT-TV. Plus there are an additional 300 medical beds available at a separate facility.
Wolff said the minors would stay at the facility for five to nine days, but those who tested positive for COVID-9 would be housed for two weeks.
Last month, Abbott blasted the Biden administration for “unsafe” conditions at two other Texas migrant facilities. Abbott warned of “serious water issues” at the migrant housing facility in Midland and of a COVID-19 outbreak at the Carrizo Springs migrant facility.
“The Biden Administration has been an abject failure when it comes to ensuring the safety of unaccompanied minors who cross our border,” Abbott slammed the administration’s handling of the border crisis. “The conditions unaccompanied minors face in these federally run facilities is unacceptable and inhumane.”