Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday April 7, 2021 directed the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Rangers to immediately investigate allegations of child abuse and neglect inside the federally run unaccompanied minor facility in San Antonio. In a press conference outside of the facility today, the Governor announced that the state has received complaints that include allegations of sexual assault, a shortage of staff to properly supervise the children inside the facility, and that the children in the facility are not eating throughout the day. The complaints also allege that children that have tested positive for COVID-19 are not being physically separated from children who have tested negative.
During the press conference, Gov. Abbott stated on Wednesday morning the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and Texas Department of Family and Protective Services individually received tips that “allege child abuse and neglect at the federal government’s child and migrant facility at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio.” Due to this situation, Texas law requires the state departments to inform the Texas Department of Public Safety of the allegations.
Governor Abbott also spoke about the deplorable conditions are a direct result of President Biden’s refusal to secure the border and his administration’s lack of planning for the fallout of his open border policies. During the press conference, the Governor demanded that President Biden shut down the facility to stop any further abuse and move these children to federally run facilities in other states where the federal government has the space, personnel, and resources to ensure their safety.
“The Biden administration opened the borders and failed to plan for the influx of unaccompanied children crossing the border, and now we are faced with our worst fears—allegations of child abuse and neglect,” said Gov. Abbott. “I am calling on the Biden administration to close this facility, and I am directing the DPS and the Texas Rangers to immediately begin investigating these allegations. 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.”
According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) this Fiscal Year 2021 through February, there has been 29,792 unaccompanied children and single minors who have been encountered along the Southwest Border. Two thousand nine hundred and forty-two of these children are under the age of 12 years old and 26,850 are aged 13-17 years old. CBP has stated that the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) has continued its close coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as it increases its capacity to care for unaccompanied children and place them with sponsors. Our goal is to ensure that CBP has the continued capability to efficiently transfer unaccompanied children to HHS as quickly as possible, consistent with legal requirements and the best interest of the children.
As of Tuesday April 6, 2021, there are more than 4,200 unaccompanied migrant children in Border Patrol custody and around 16,000 in the care of federal shelters run by the federal HHS. By law, unaccompanied children are not supposed to be held in Border Patrol custody for more than 72 hours except for in emergencies. Since Feb. 22, the White House has opened at least eight emergency influx sites of unaccompanied migrant children in Texas, including Freeman, with a total capacity of about 14,000 beds.