Reports received by the state of Texas about the care of unaccompanied migrant children housed in a San Antonio facility and released Friday by Gov. Greg Abbott did not allege children were being abused, as the governor has previously said.
The reports were included in a letter Friday sent from Abbott, a Republican, to Vice President Kamala Harris, alleging that migrant teenage boys housed in the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio aren’t being properly monitored, may be engaging in sexual behavior and are being bullied.
Earlier this week, Abbott — without citing any evidence — said the state had received tips that the children were being sexually abused, but the reports disclosed by the state on Friday do not contain those specific allegations, nor do they state who has made the complaints and what access they have to the facility.
Nonetheless, the governor’s allegations spurred an investigation by the US Department of Health and Human Services, which said the administration “takes the safety and well-being of children in its care very seriously,” but that there wasn’t yet a reason to shut down the facility, as Abbott had suggested.
“The bathrooms are not supervised during showers; the boys are not properly monitored and are engaging in sexual behavior in the showers; there is a concern about staff ratio at night,” reads one of the reports received by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission on Tuesday morning.
Another report received one minute later said that “children do not have enough to eat throughout the day; there is not enough staff watching the children and children may be left with no supervision at night; there is sexual acting out between children; and children who are homosexual may be bullied.”
A third report received the following day stated that “children are not eating enough food; there are concerns about the amount of supervision; and children who may be homosexual are being bullied.”
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services told CNN in an email on Wednesday that it had received three separate reports “alleging abuse and neglect” at the site. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission also said the agency “received a report of alleged abuse and neglect involving children” housed at the facility.
In his letter to Harris, Abbott again demanded that the site be shut down and blamed the Biden administration’s policies for the complaints.
“Texas previously warned about overcrowded conditions at these facilities, and now those conditions have led to allegations of child abuse and neglect,” the governor wrote in his letter. “Our repeated warnings and questions have gone ignored by President Biden, yourself, and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that the allegations are being investigated but did not see a need to shut down the facility.
“We take safety and the well-being of children in our care very seriously. (Abbott’s) claims will be looked into and investigated by the Department of Health and Human Services,” she said, adding that the administration didn’t currently see a need to close the facility.
HHS opened the emergency intake site for unaccompanied migrant children at the Freeman Coliseum last month. There are more than 20,000 unaccompanied migrant children in US custody, according to government data as of Tuesday.