Sexual abuse, neglect allegations made about child migrant overflow facility in San Antonio

Immigration

FILE: AUSTIN, TX – MAY 18: Texas Governor Greg Abbott. (Photo by Lynda M. Gonzalez-Pool/Getty Images)

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (KXAN) — Texas Governor Greg Abbott revealed on Wednesday evening that two state agencies separately received tips alleging migrant child sex abuse and neglect at the federal overflow facility in San Antonio.

Abbott explained the allegations in front of the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, which became a site to house asylum-seeking, unaccompanied minors from the U.S.-Mexico border.

A spokesperson for the White House told NewsNation Thursday the Biden administration sees “no basis” for Gov. Abbott’s call to shut down intake at the Coliseum but says the claims will be investigated by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Biden Administration takes the safety and well-being of children in its care very seriously. 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.

Ike Hajinazarian, White House Regional Communications Director

The governor says the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services received the complaints on Tuesday — alleging the children at the facilities are being sexually assaulted, are not being fed, and are being made vulnerable to COVID-19 infection.

In recent weeks, Abbott has laid the blame for the surge with the Biden administration, calling its policies “reckless open border policies” that encourage and incentivize sending minors to the U.S.

And the Wednesday event was no different.

“This facility is a health and safety nightmare. The Biden administration is now presiding over the abuse of children. To end this abuse, the Biden administration must immediately shut down this facility.”

GOV. GREG ABBOTT

The governor demanded that the minors be relocated to properly staffed, federally run facilities. Additionally, he ordered the Texas Rangers to immediately begin investigating the allegations.

Abbott has previously claimed that minors are being made vulnerable to traffickers and cartels and in late March, sent a letter to President Joe Biden, making requests to address the issue. Among the requests are finding out how the minors arrived at the border, who helped them through and assessing whether they’ve been subject to any abuse.

Thousands of migrant children have been arriving at overflow facilities in the state, including three new sites announced this week. These facilities aim to take the strain off of U.S. Border Patrol sites, which aren’t supposed to hold children for longer than three days — but have increasingly been forced to do because of the high volume of arrivals.

“The Biden administration has caused this crisis and it has repeatedly failed to address it,” said Abbott. “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.”

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was set to visit Texas Thursday, traveling to El Paso and McAllen.

Friday evening, HHS issues the following statement to NewsNation:

“HHS takes its humanitarian mission seriously and while unaccompanied migrant children are in our care under the law, we strive to provide a safe space while they go through immigration proceedings.  HHS has a zero-tolerance policy for all forms of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and inappropriate sexual behavior at all UC care provider facilities. We will continue investigating any incidents affecting children’s health, well-being and safety and will take the proper measures including initiating employee disciplinary action, termination, and reporting to appropriate investigative entities, such as law enforcement agencies and relevant licensing bodies.”

HHS Administration for Children and Families

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