SAN ANTONIO — Editor's note: The above video is from earlier in the week.
A coalition of immigrants’ rights groups are urging the federal government to speed up the family reunification process, following a tour of the Freeman Coliseum, which currently houses more than 1,800 unaccompanied migrant children.
The tour comes after Gov. Greg Abbott held a press conference Wednesday, calling for the facility to shut down operations, alleging instances of sexual abuse taking place, staffing issues and coronavirus safety concerns.
"We need to ensure that the human dignity of these children, no matter where they're from, is valued and prioritized," said Juany Torres, one organizer.
Local, state and federal Texas politicians have visited the site since Abbott’s announced allegations, noting no abuse or misconduct of caretaking happening within Freeman Coliseum.
Sunday’s tour included representatives from SA Stands, which is comprised of multiple organizations such as the Texas Organizing Project and Texas Criminal Justice Coalition.
SA Stands representatives who toured the facility, noted only one child has been officially reunified with family after two weeks. Representatives with the coalition said 200 children who’ve tested positive for coronavirus are being cared for in a separate area of Freeman Coliseum.
“We are definitely calling on the different agencies such as HHS, such as ORR, plus all of our local elected officials to do more, to really try and not have to get to a long-term facility. 60 days is way too long but some of the answers that we got were alluding that they’re ready to stay in for that amount of time, which is how long the contract lasts between the county and the different agencies,” said Carolina Canizales, senior Texas campaign strategist for the Immigrant Legal Resource Center.
SA Stands emphasized there’s a need for greater transparency in terms of numbers of children being cared for. The group also desires to partner with Bexar County
“We’re really to partner with the county to ensure that these kids experience something different than what they’ve experienced in other facilities, however we have to keep asking for their partnership, we have to keep telling them what we can do for them to take us seriously,” Canizales said.