84% of Texas facilities holding unaccompanied migrant children have seen positive COVID-19 tests

This March 20, 2021, photo provided by the Office of Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, shows detainees in a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) temporary overflow facility in Donna, Texas. President Joe Biden’s administration faces mounting criticism for refusing to allow outside observers into facilities where it is detaining thousands of immigrant children.

(The Center Square) – Thirty-seven of 44 shelters, or 87 percent, currently housing unaccompanied migrant minors in Texas reported positive COVID-19 test results between March 5 and 23, according to data collected by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Cases are identified by shelter facilities and foster care providers, which are then reported to officials at the agency.

“The Biden Administration has been an abject failure when it comes to ensuring the safety of unaccompanied minors who cross our border,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said. “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.

A spokesperson from the Texas health commission told Newsweek that the agency does not maintain additional data to track COVID-19 transmission inside federal facilities.

“The absence of centralized federal procedures to sufficiently identify and manage COVID-19 cases among migrants detained at the border has given rise to more questions than answers about the illness’ true incidence,” Newsweek reports.

The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, a branch of the Administration for Children and Families, reopened an overflow shelter facility in Texas’ Carrizo Springs to house roughly 950 occupants.

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department announced it plans to open six new intake and influx care facilities to hold unaccompanied minors temporarily. They will also be held at two military bases in Texas: Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland and Fort Bliss. HHS will “maintain custody and responsibility for the well-being and support for these children at all times of the installation,” a spokesperson said.