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Texas Investigating Sex Abuse Allegations at Biden’s Child Migrant Detention Facility

'The fact that any child would experience abuse in the care of the U.S. government is despicable...'

(Headline USA) Texas child welfare officials said Wednesday they received three reports alleging abuse and neglect at a San Antonio coliseum that is holding more than 1,600 immigrant teenagers who crossed the southern border.

State officials announced they are investigating such allegations at one of the emergency facilities the Biden administration has set up in Texas amid a sharp increase in crossings of unaccompanied youths.

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.

“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.”

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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 outside the facility Wednesday evening. For weeks Abbott and other national Republicans have criticized the Biden administration for creating a magnet for illegals to flood the border, and for its failure to handle the crisis at the U.S. southern border.

“The children should be moved to better staffed and better secured locations,” Abbott said.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement that it could not comment on specific cases but “has a zero-tolerance policy for all forms of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and inappropriate sexual behavior.”

The allegations were received by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Spokesman Patrick Crimmins said he did not immediately know if the state had received other abuse or neglect allegations at emergency sites for migrant youths in Texas.

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HHS 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. The agency’s lack of capacity as border crossings were rising at the start of the Biden administration has led to children sometimes waiting for weeks in overcrowded, unsafe and unsanitary Border Patrol facilities.

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.

“Unaccompanied children that arrive at our border have already endured dangerous conditions at home and a treacherous journey to get here,” said Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. “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.”

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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