The only notice that a migrant facility for girls in Texas was set to close was the buses rolling up on Saturday morning to take the girls away, according to the site sponsor.
The fact that it came after the Houston Chronicle reported that a Dept. of Health and Human Services staffer died at the facility Friday night makes the incident that much more curious — the death was reportedly unrelated to the transfer of the girls.
“We actually found out when we started seeing these buses arriving this morning,” said Pastor Jose Ortega with the site’s sponsor organization, the National Association of Christian Churches.
FIEL, an immigrant-run civil rights advocacy group in Houston, had raised concerns about the center after a FIEL employee videoed ambulances and law enforcement on Friday night outside the center.
Tweeting the video, FIEL added, “Something is happening at the Children’s Detention Center in Houston”
Something is happening at the Children Detention Center in Houston pic.twitter.com/6ohJEVb2Ws
— FIEL Houston 🦋 (@FIELHouston) April 17, 2021
FIEL Director Cesar Espinosa translated the description of the video for the Associated Press, “There seemed to be a lot of confusion as to what was happening. The people that were there looked like they were in a sad stance, kind of with their head down and seemed like they were wiping tears away.”
The reportedly overcrowded migrant facility in Houston, which housed around 450 girls aged 13-17 year old, was only in operation since April 1, or three short weeks, before it abruptly closed. The last bus left the facility around 7:00 pm on Saturday night.
Texas Governor Gregg Abbott reacted to what many are calling a border crisis during an appearance on Fox News’ “The Story.”
“The White House is standing by while people in south Texas are terrorized. All they have done is create a complete open border,” Abbott said, adding, “You have terrorists, who are coming across the border, as well as these cartels. No young child makes it across the border without the assistance of these drug cartels.”
(Video: Fox News)
Similar to the substandard conditions reported at other border facilities, the conditions at this warehouse facility were bleak. Espinosa told AP reporters, “There was really no space for social distancing… they were only allowed to get up from their cot to use the restroom as well as to shower.
“Everything that was being brought in was temporary. The showers were temporary, they were bringing in temporary restrooms, so this space was not equipped to house anybody, much less children,” Espinoza continued.
Despite the crowded conditions, the girls were reported to be in good spirits.
This is not the first time there have been concerns over conditions at border facilities. On April 7, there were allegedly three incidents of abuse and neglect in a San Antonio facility where 1,600 migrant children were being held.
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