Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday that the state had received two anonymous tips earlier that day about alleged “abuse and neglect” at a San Antonio facility housing unaccompanied minors who crossed the U.S. border seeking asylum.
Even though Abbott admitted the Texas Rangers and the Texas Department of Public Safety haven’t even had time to investigate the allegations, he still accused President Joe Biden of “presiding over the abuse of children” during a hastily organized press conference in front of the Freeman Coliseum where the minors are currently being held.
He then demanded that Biden immediately close the facility, which currently houses hundreds of migrant youths, based solely on the separate tips sent Wednesday morning to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas Department of Family Protective Services.
“The complaints that were sent to these state agencies include the following four things,” Abbott said. “Children at this facility are being sexually assaulted,” he claimed. “Second, there are not enough staff to safely supervise the children at this facility. Third, some children in this facility are not eating throughout the day. And fourth, children with COVID are not being physically separated from children without COVID.”
“In short,” Abbott continued, “this facility is a health and safety nightmare.”
Abbott said the tipsters “are remaining anonymous at this time” but that he had been told the tips came from “more than one person who’s been in this facility.”
He also admitted that it was unclear how many children may have been put in harm’s way. “We don’t know the total number of children that have been abused. We’re concerned that it could be more than one,” Abbott said.
Even though Abbott said in his prepared remarks that “To end this abuse, the Biden administration must immediately shut down this facility” and that the children inside should be moved to other federal shelters with more resources, space and personnel, he seemingly backtracked when asked if he supported moving all of those children before the investigation he called for just minutes prior was completed.
“I think the investigation needs to happen immediately, and definitely if the allegations are confirmed, then they need to be moved, because I think the investigation should and can begin tonight,” Abbott said.
“We may have answers as soon as tomorrow,” he continued, “and I know the Biden administration wouldn’t be able to move before then, which is why I’m making the ask tonight that the Biden administration get ready to begin to move these children to a safer location.”
A large number of unaccompanied minors have come across the U.S. border in recent months, partly due to a Biden-era policy shift that allowed kids crossing the border to temporarily stay in the country while the federal government looks for family members they could stay with in the states as it investigates their asylum claims.
One reporter asked Abbott whether it was “somewhat legally nefarious or dangerous” to accuse Biden of being responsible for child abuse even though an investigation hasn’t even begun.
“These are very credible allegations,” Abbott responded, abruptly ending the press conference.