Abbott opens investigation into claims of sexual assault, abuse at San Antonio shelter for migrant minors

An expo center was converted into a shelter for unaccompanied minors in San Antonio about a week ago. Wednesday night Governor Greg Abbott announced he is opening an investigation into the Freeman Expo Center Emergency Intake Site (EIS). Formerly known as the Freeman Expo Center, the Biden administration planned to move 2,100 children into the facility. The number currently held is reported to be 1,600. There are reports of sexual assault, abuse, and neglect now, just days later.

What did they think would happen with these shelters being hastily opened up to ease the overcrowding at facilities on the border? Even under the best of circumstances, putting a couple of thousand mostly teenagers into a group facility is ripe for abuse. There is a lack of personnel to properly supervise the minors, according to Governor Abbott’s statement. He is calling on the Biden administration to close down the shelter and move the unaccompanied minors elsewhere, preferably out of Texas. Abbott is opening an investigation using the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Rangers. His office released a statement.

Governor Greg Abbott today 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.

Governor Abbott stated that these 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 Governor 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.”

Not only is Governor Abbott launching an investigation, but he is also calling on Biden to close the facility and move the minors out of state to a place with more space and personnel to attend to them. This is a federally run facility, not one run by the State of Texas. This is Joe Biden’s responsibility, as is the crisis on the southern border.

Senator John Cornyn calls for the HHS Inspector General to investigate the situation. In a press release, he stated, “Unaccompanied children that arrive at our border have already endured dangerous conditions at home and a treacherous journey to get here. The fact that any child would experience abuse in the care of the U.S. government is despicable. The HHS Inspector General must fully investigate these allegations and the treatment of children at this facility.” Cornyn has now toured four migrant facilities for unaccompanied minors in Texas, in Carrizo Springs, Donna, Houston, and Midland and he plans to visit a fifth in Dallas this week.

The Biden administration cannot warehouse children without proper supervision. A lack of enough personnel plus the public health danger of housing COVID positive minors with the general population is a super spreader event waiting to happen. When Abbott was briefed on “credible” complaints of abuse and understaffing Wednesday, he traveled to San Antonio to hold a press conference Wednesday night in front of the facility. The unaccompanied minors are waiting to be placed with sponsors or family members while they await asylum hearings. This is the first investigation called for about a facility for unaccompanied minors in Texas.

It is the first time state officials announced they are investigating such allegations at one of the emergency facilities the U.S. government has quickly set up in Texas amid a sharp increase in crossings of unaccompanied youths. A county official who also volunteers at the San Antonio site, the Freeman Coliseum, said the nature of the allegations do not align with what she has seen in multiple visits to the facility.

Child welfare officials would not reveal details about who made the allegations, but Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said his understanding was that they came from someone who had been inside the facility. One of the allegations include sexual abuse, but no further details were provided.

A Democrat county commissioner calls out Abbott for “politicizing children”.

Bexar County Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores, who has been inside the facility as both an elected official and volunteer, said the teenagers are offered three meals and two snacks a day and anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 is put in a separate area far from other children. She toured the facility with Abbott after his press conference and said he asked staff questions that included COVID-19 testing protocols.

“I wish the governor had done his tour before the press conference when he politicized children,” said Clay-Flores, an elected Democrat.

No one is politicizing children more than Joe Biden and his administration. He gave the call which led unaccompanied minors to flock to the southern border by stating over and over again that minors would not be sent back, all they have to do is get across the border and they can stay. It has not been reported if a staff member or members are being accused of abuse or if it comes from those being detained.