SAN ANTONIO – Gov. Greg Abbott called on the federal government to close a facility for migrant children at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio after complaints of abuse and understaffing were received Wednesday morning.
Abbott said the complaints were “credible” and had been filed with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. He declined to provide details of the tipster, but said it came from at least one or more people inside the facility.
Allegations include sexual assault, understaffing, lack of food, and COVID-positive children who are not isolated from others.
The governor said the Texas Rangers would immediately begin investigating the cases. It is not known how many children were reportedly abused.
“This facility is a health and safety nightmare,” Abbott said. “The Biden Administration should immediately shut down this facility.”
“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.” Abbott said. “I call on the Biden administration to shut down this facility and ask the DPS and the Texas Rangers to immediately begin investigating these allegations. President Biden’s disastrous decisions sparked this crisis, and his administration must act now to protect these children, secure the border, and end this crisis.
In a statement, a DFPS spokeswoman confirmed that the agency had received the allegations.
“The Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) today received three separate reports of abuse and neglect at the Freeman Coliseum, which currently houses unaccompanied minors. As this installation is not authorized by the State, we do not have the competence to investigate, but the information that we received has been shared with the DPS, ”the statement said.
Bexar County PCT. Commissioner Rebecca Clay-Flores, who has visited the facility often, said the allegations were political in nature and constituted “fake news”.
“They get three meals a day plus two snacks,” she says. “The conditions are hygienic and good.”
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg released a statement saying, “These allegations about the federal operation are troubling if they are true, and a full investigation is warranted.”
The press conference was held outside the Freeman Coliseum, where 1,370 boys aged 13 to 17 are being housed as a US Department of Health and Human Services emergency reception site.
The exhibition center, located next to the AT&T center, where the San Antonio Spurs play, has a potential internal capacity of 2,100 beds and an external capacity of 300 medical beds.
Upon arrival, the children are given medical examinations and all necessary follow-up care for any injuries or illnesses they suffered upon arrival, officials have already said.
Abbott has been very critical of the Biden administration’s handling of the influx of migrants along the US-Mexico border, saying the administration refuses to secure the border, which he says has leads to a sharp increase in illegal border crossings. See the data here.
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