HOUSTON — So many children are illegally crossing into the U.S without their parents that the Biden Administration is having to bus the undocumented children to emergency intake sites away from the border.
One of those emergency sites is now under investigation for alleged child abuse.
The Texas Department of Public Safety confirms its conducting an “ongoing investigation” of alleged misconduct inside the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio. It was tapped, last month, by the US Department of Health and Human Services to house up to 2,400 teen boys.
During a press conference outside of the coliseum Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Greg Abbott said that two separate state agencies each received complaints that allege four things: that children are being sexually abused, that’s there’s not enough supervision of the children, that some children are not eating and that there’s no separation of children who test positive for COVID-19.
The Biden Administration’s opened nearly a dozen emergency intake sites across Texas. The National Association of Christian Churches began welcoming immigrant girls last Friday. U.S. Reps. Al Green, Lizzie Fletcher and Sylvia Garcia toured the Houston site this afternoon.
Congresswoman Garcia says 450 teen girls, from various countries, are currently being held at the NACC location. Garcia’s office says they had to turn off their cellphones in order to tour the facility.
“We saw many of the little girls and it just looks like they’re okay. They’re not on the floor. They’re on FEMA cots,” said Garcia of the setup inside the north Houston facility. “They’ve got real blankets. They’ve got real pillows.”
Garcia said each child has their own stuffed animal and toiletries kit. A medical team is on site and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is patrolling. The Congresswoman describes conditions in Houston as a “huge improvement” to the crowded conditions at U.S. Border Patrol processing stations along the border.
As for the Texas DPS investigation Garcia said, “what we hear in San Antonio is very, very disturbing. However, we must wait to see to an investigation.”
She and other Democrat members of Congress, “made sure that here they do have security. People are getting the background checks.”
Garcia invited Cesar Espinoza, the executive director of FIEL, Houston’s largest immigrant rights group, to walk through the facility with her today. Espinoza has said that his office is receiving phone calls from parents searching for their children.
Now that he’s toured the facility he can, “at least be able to tell family members that for the most part, these children, their needs are being met. There obviously could be room for improvement.”
Congress members Green, Fletcher, Garcia and Sheila Jackson Lee are asking the federal government and NACC to make improvements. The politicians would like to see an outdoor space so the children can get fresh air and culturally-relevant meals, more staff and less isolating medical spaces.
“We as members of Congress must still have the oversight. We must still come and check. Because ultimately it’s on our watch. In our own backyard.”