Texas' Greg Abbott Calls Immigration Facilities 'a Nightmare,' Demands Investigation

Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott called immigration facilities at the U.S.-Mexico border a "nightmare," and demanded that an investigation be opened into the treatment of migrants at these facilities.

On Wednesday, Abbott held a press conference outside of the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, which is reportedly housing more than 1,000 unaccompanied children, and said: "In short, this facility is a health and safety nightmare."

"Earlier today, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services separately received tips that allege child abuse and neglect at the federal government's child and migrant facility at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio behind me," Abbott said. "These problems are a byproduct of President [Joe] Biden's open border policies and the lack of planning for the fallout from those disastrous policies."

Abbott went on to detail the complaints the Texas Health and Human Services and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services have received that included claims of sexual assault against the children at the migrant facility; a lack of staff to "safely supervise the children at this facility"; some children not being fed at the facility; and "children with COVID are not being physically separated from children without COVID."

The governor called on the Biden administration to "immediately" close the facility and move the children who are housed there to a different one.

"While we wait on the Biden administration to act, I am directing the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Rangers to immediately begin investigating these allegations," Abbott said. "This must end. The Biden administration must act now."

Greg Abbott
US President Joe Biden (R) greets Texas Governor Greg Abbott and his wife Cecilia Abbott (2nd L) at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston, Texas on February 26, 2021. Also welcoming the President is Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee (L). - Biden is visiting Houston, Texas following severe winter storms which left much of the state without electricity for days. Mandel Ngan/Getty

In an email sent to Newsweek, the Bexar County Sheriff's Office confirmed that they were "dispatched at 5:16 p.m. on April 7, 2021, to the Freeman Coliseum located at 3201 E Houston St for allegations of a sexual offense which occurred at the listed location."

"Due to the nature of this incident and preliminary status of the investigation, this is the only information available which is being released at this time," the sheriff's office told Newsweek via email.

In a statement sent to KEYE-TV, a spokesperson for the White House said: "Currently we see no basis for Governor Abbott's call to shut down the San Antonio Freeman Coliseum as an intake site, however his claims will be looked into and investigated by the Department of Health and Human Services."

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Abbott's remarks come just a day before the U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported that 18,890 unaccompanied children crossed the U.S.-Mexico border last month.

"In March 2021, CBP encountered more than 172,000 persons attempting entry along the Southwest border. This total represented a 71 percent increase over February 2021," CBP said in a statement on Thursday.

Newsweek contacted Abbott's office for comment.