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Abbott: Hey, there is not a fence around the Midlands detention facility, launches investigation into safety concerns



Governor Abbott appeared on Fox and Friends Monday morning and told the co-hosts that he had two items of news to deliver. The topic was the flood of illegal migrants into Texas and the holding facility that the Biden administration is using to house unaccompanied minors in Midland. A Texas state senator delivered troubling news to the governor.

As he spoke, he told the audience that there is no fencing around the Midland facility. The facility was hastily opened up to accommodate the overflow of unaccompanied minors from the U.S.-Mexico border. It was formerly a ‘man camp’ for oilfield workers run by Cotton Logistics and it is now referred to as an Emergency Intake Facility. The governor said there are both public safety concerns and public health concerns with the facility. He has launched an investigation into safety conditions at the Midland facility as well as others in Texas.

Texas health officials are investigating two federally-run facilities housing unaccompanied migrant children. Governor Greg Abbott sent the Texas Department of State Health Services to Carrizo Springs to look into a COVID outbreak there. And the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality says the drinking water is potentially unsafe at the Midland facility. Abbott bashed the administration for putting children in “unacceptable and inhumane” conditions.

Abbott released a statement voicing his concerns and his intention to investigate conditions at the facilities.

“The Biden Administration has been an abject failure when it comes to ensuring the safety of unaccompanied minors who cross our border. The conditions unaccompanied minors face in these federally run facilities is unacceptable and inhumane. From a lack of safe drinking water in one location to a COVID-19 outbreak in another, the Biden Administration has no excuse for subjecting these children to these kinds of conditions. President Biden’s refusal to address the border crisis is not only enabling criminal actors like human traffickers and smugglers, but it is exposing innocent unaccompanied children to illness and potentially unsafe living conditions. The administration must act now to keep these children safe, secure our border, and end this humanitarian crisis.”

The Governor has deployed Texas Department of State Health Services resources and personnel to Carrizo Springs to investigate, identify, and combat the outbreak of COVID-19 in the federally run facility. The Texas Commission of Environmental Quality has notified the Midland facility of their need to address the serious water issues.

A lack of exterior fencing around the facility essentially means that the unaccompanied minors are on an honor system to remain in place. It is not a secure situation. It puts both the minors and the community at risk. Abbott said that the adults working at the Midland facility are staying in area hotels. There is a 10% positivity rate of COVID infection in the minors being held which can prove to be a super spreader event – the workers can be infected inside the center and then spread it out to hotel workers as well as into the community in general. Texas currently has the second-lowest positivity rate the state has held in twelve months. Abbott doesn’t want to see the trend stop now.

Governor Abbott didn’t give the name of the state senator with whom he was speaking about the situation in Midland but I’m willing to guess it was State Senator Kel Seliger. He represents Midland. Seliger was first turned down when he requested a visit but was then allowed to do so on Saturday. He said the minors being held come from Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and other countries. He was accompanied by some of his office staff, Midland County District Attorney Laura Nodolf, and officials from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). TCEQ has to permit the water system. Abbott said last week that the holding facility didn’t have clean running water for the minors held there.

Senator Seliger notes that the facility is “adequate” for what it is doing. The permit for the water system is in the works now. A fence is being built. It looks as though the facility is expanding, too.

“ It looked clean and the living conditions looked like they were pretty good; far better than what these kids were probably accustomed to. There were two physicians there, one of whom was with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control). There were a couple more CDC people there — one from Washington and one from Atlanta.”

“… The Federal Protective Service was there and they were building a fence. They’ve got a full dispensary there where one of the physicians was …,” Seliger said.

He added that the Red Cross was on hand, which was reassuring.

Also being built was what Seliger thought might be some sort of multipurpose facility, but that question wasn’t answered.

“ I assume it’s going to have exercise and recreational stuff there. They don’t have a central eating facility there because of fear of infection, so they’re pretty much delivering the food to the kids’ rooms which I guess is OK. They were using an unpermitted well for cooking and showering and they were trucking in water and they have some portable water tanks that have been inspected by the TCEQ, as well as the distribution system so I think they’ll get all of that done,” Seliger said.

So, that all sounds good for the care of the minors – mostly teenage boys. If the situation is under control and the border is closed, as Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas insisted on several Sunday morning shows yesterday, why is the facility expanding? The truth is that the Biden administration is secretly trying to put up shelters without allowing the press into them to report about the situation. There is a lack of transparency from DHS and the Biden administration, though Biden pledged to have the most transparent of all administrations. The press is banned from visits to the Midland facility and other ones, too.

Axios has photos of a border facility in Donna, Texas. They are using tents to shelter migrants. I’m old enough to remember when the Trump administration was dealing with a surge at the border and using tents for shelter. The outrage from the press and Democrats were expressed non-stop, 24/7. The same emergency foil blankets are being used and the situation looks to be the same as that which Trump faced, only with larger numbers of migrants flooding the border.

Seliger questioned why DHS is holding the minors past the 72-hour limit allowed by law. He questions how long they will stay and demands that regular inspections happen. The double standard we see now from open borders Democrats and how they held the Trump administration to different standards is jaw-dropping.

He said if they have paperwork showing where they are supposed to go, “why are the kids still there and why are they not appearing before an immigration judge to move immediately.”

“ Are some of those kids going to be there a year from now? That’s the question that I have. At some point, resettlement or detention can almost become imprisonment and that we must not do. One thing you just cannot get out of your mind — these are children and they’ve already had it tough. Some of them, according to a physician … walked most of the way from El Salvador or Nicaragua …,” Seliger said.

He said he has asked Attorney General Ken Paxton to file an injunction in federal court to stop the Office of Refugee Resettlement from sending more migrants until they answer key questions that he and other officials have.

He said he also will encourage Gov. Greg Abbott to ask that periodic inspections of the camp by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

“ TCEQ is going to show up there regularly no matter what. They can’t keep them out, as will the county environmental people. But if they’re going to run this kind of facility in Midland they’re going to have to do it the way that everyone else would be required to do it if they’re going to house large numbers of minors,” Seliger said.

Seliger says the process has been unacceptable and secretive. Democrat Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee admitted that the Biden administration has a plan but so far it isn’t working. Biden should have had everything in place before announcing the borders are wide open again and there will be no penalties for breaking the law by entering the U.S. illegally.

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