Texas investigating abuse allegations at Biden detention center

Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas (April 8, 2021) — Texas child welfare officials said Wednesday they received three reports alleging abuse and neglect at a Biden detention center in San Antonio that is holding more than 1,600 immigrant teenagers who crossed the southern border.

It is the first time state officials announced they are investigating such allegations at one of the Biden detention centers housing thousands of illegal immigrants that have been crossing the border since Biden took office. 

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.

Other allegations include insufficient staffing, children not eating and those who tested positive for COVID-19 not being separated, Abbott said at a news conference that he quickly arranged outside the facility Wednesday evening. For weeks, Abbott has joined Republicans in criticizing the Biden administration for the handling of the migration challenge at the U.S. southern border.

“This facility should shut down immediately. The children should be moved to better staffed and better secured locations,” Abbott said.

The Biden administration has rushed to open large sites to house migrant children across the Southwest amid a sharp increase in crossings of unaccompanied youths at the southern border. 

Just in March and April, HHS has added more than 17,000 beds at convention centers, camps for oil field workers, and military bases — more than doubling the capacity of its longstanding system of permanent facilities that took years to open.

The U.S. government last month had stopped taking immigrant teenagers to one site in Midland as it faced questions about the safety of the emergency sites. Midland County District Attorney Laura Nodolf said Wednesday that they have been “faced with allegations that have resulted in an ongoing criminal investigation” but offered no further details. She said the allegations were also reported to federal officials.

To staff its emergency sites, HHS waived regulations that normally apply to its permanent facilities, including bypassing FBI fingerprint background checks for all caregivers. It has hired a mix of contractors and nonprofits to staff the sites, with job postings going up in several cities seeking people to start work immediately.

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