'Unbearable' conditions push Biden administration to close Houston migrant center

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  texan1211  •  2 months ago  •  27 comments

By:   MSN

'Unbearable' conditions push Biden administration to close Houston migrant center
The Biden administration shuttered a Houston facility for migrant children following allegations that the group running it failed to provide adequate living conditions.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



The Biden administration over the weekend shuttered a Houston warehouse that housed unaccompanied migrant children following allegations that the nonprofit organization running the site failed to provide adequate living conditions for hundreds of young girls, multiple sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.

© Reginald Mathalone/NurPhoto/Shutterstock Powered by Microsoft News

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) opened the warehouse early this month in response to the surge of migrants arriving at the southern border.

Exclusive video shot by ABC News showed buses removing more than 100 girls from the emergency intake center on Saturday. Until its closure, the facility had been run by a Houston-based nonprofit with no prior experience housing unaccompanied migrant children.

Sources familiar with the facility's operation said the girls housed there, aged 13-17, were at times instructed to use plastic bags for toilets because there were not enough staff members to accompany them to restrooms. A spokesperson for the nonprofit would neither confirm nor deny these allegations to ABC News.

A lack of outdoor space meant girls spent most of the day on makeshift cots surrounded by boxes intended to offer some semblance of privacy, according to the sources. The facility also suffered from overcrowding and failed to comply with pandemic-related distancing measures, the sources said.

MORE: More than 172,000 migrants, most in nearly 2 decades, stopped at US-Mexico border in March

Cesar Espinoza, the executive director of migrant civil rights organization FIEL, toured the facility in recent weeks as part of his work to ensure humane treatment for migrants, and said he saw "desperation" in the girls' faces that was "unbearable and incredible."

Espinoza said the warehouse space was "filled just with cots, where the girls were not allowed to get up, unless it was to shower, or to use the restroom. Even their meals were delivered to their cots."

"[The girls] were more treated like merchandise rather than treated as human beings, as people who just went through a very traumatic experience," Espinosa said. "I would not allow my 15-year-old sister to go and volunteer in a place like this because I don't know what she's going to see."

Over the weekend, HHS announced it would relocate the nearly 500 girls to other facilities in the area, or to family members or sponsors.

"The children being transferred are being moved to ensure continuity of care under conditions that meet our strict standards of care," an HHS spokesperson told ABC News.

© Reginald Mathalone/NurPhoto/Shutterstock An officer blocks the entrance to the new immigration facility in Houston, Texas, April 3, 2021.

A White House spokesperson told ABC News that the site was closed because it "did not meet the Biden administration's very high standard for child welfare."

Located near the George H.W. Bush International Airport, the migrant care facility was intended as an emergency stopgap measure to shelter the influx of unaccompanied minors entering the U.S.

The National Association of Christian Churches (NACC), a Houston-based organization with its roots in disaster relief, was awarded a $4 million contract to operate the warehouse despite having no record of caring for unaccompanied migrants.

In a statement to ABC News on Sunday, Dean Hoover, a spokesperson for NACC, sought to redirect blame toward the Biden administration -- who NACC claimed had control over the site after bringing in its own subcontractors.

"NACC officials were personally requested by HHS Secretary [Xavier] Becerra and President Biden to open the doors of their large Houston facility to refugee children on an emergency basis," Hoover said. "It is deeply hurtful and unfair to the folks at NACC that anyone would now think of criticizing them when all they were trying to do is be good Samaritans and help the HHS help these children."

MORE: New photos show migrants in overcrowded Border Patrol facility in Texas

In recent interviews with the Houston Chronicle, Jose Ortega, NACC's founder and president, claimed that his organization had not sought out this work -- but rather that Becerra had personally "begged" him to accept the contract and house the children.

"I'm a humble pastor that was thrown into this mess without asking for it," Ortega told the newspaper. "We were not looking for a contract, we were not applying for a contract for us to make money -- this was thrown on us."

Ortega also pinned the deterioration of his group's facility on the government's failure to provide funds.

A spokesperson for HHS, which oversees the Office of Refugee Resettlement, told the Houston Chronicle that NACC was vetted following standard procedures.

But advocates like Espinoza say the administration needs to better explain why it signed a contract with NACC.

"What was the process? Why was this center chosen?" Espinoza said to ABC News. "There's many other spaces here in Houston that could have been chosen, that would have stepped up to the plate, who had the experience of running shelters or who have the experience of working with children in this space."

Neither the White House nor HHS would say how NACC was selected despite having no prior experience housing migrant children or running a migrant holding center.

A steadily rising flow of migrants trekking north from Central America has sparked a humanitarian crisis near the U.S.-Mexico border, posing an early challenge to the Biden administration.

On Saturday, Biden acknowledged that the situation at the border does, indeed, amount to a crisis -- a characterization his administration had previously refrained from using.

ABC News' Katherine Faulders, Benjamin Siegel, Mike Levine, Quinn Owen and Alex Hosenball contributed to this report.


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Texan1211
Professor Principal
1  seeder  Texan1211    2 months ago

Well, well, well, looky there, Biden finally admitted what many of us already knew and never denied--it IS a crisis at the border!

Will small wonders never cease?

 
 
 
321steve - realistically thinkin or Duu
Sophomore Principal
1.1  321steve - realistically thinkin or Duu   replied to  Texan1211 @1    2 months ago
it IS a crisis at the border!

It seems every time American presidents make changes at the border there is a crisis.

That is because of lack of planning every time a president changes things.

With both parties.

Duuuu 

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
1.1.1  seeder  Texan1211  replied to  321steve - realistically thinkin or Duu @1.1    2 months ago

Some crises are created by policy.

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Guide
1.1.2  Sean Treacy  replied to  Texan1211 @1.1.1    2 months ago

Asking people to surge the border and destroying diplomatic agreements to handle asylum claims tends to create a crises. 

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
1.1.3  seeder  Texan1211  replied to  Sean Treacy @1.1.2    2 months ago

Gee, if only the current Administration had the foresight to have known that!

 
 
 
devangelical
PhD Principal
1.1.4  devangelical  replied to  Texan1211 @1.1.3    2 months ago

gee, if only the peaceful transition of power hadn't started 2.5 months earlier...

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
1.1.5  seeder  Texan1211  replied to  devangelical @1.1.4    2 months ago

Gee, what an utterly stupid, off topic remark.

Color me shocked, of course!

 
 
 
Ronin2
Masters Quiet
1.1.6  Ronin2  replied to  devangelical @1.1.4    2 months ago

How would the transition affected anything? Think China Joe and the Democrats had a plan for this shit show? Outside of blaming Trump that is.

China Joe didn't just come up with all of those EO/EA's on the spur of the moment. They were written out well in advance by his handlers before he officially came to office. Too bad they didn't plan on the handling of those illegal immigrants after ringing the dinner bell for them to come since the Democratic primaries.

No amount of spin is going to save Joe from the shit show he caused at the border.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
1.1.7  seeder  Texan1211  replied to  Ronin2 @1.1.6    2 months ago

Isn't it just hilarious that some are still trying to blame Trump for Biden's screw-ups?

 
 
 
321steve - realistically thinkin or Duu
Sophomore Principal
1.1.8  321steve - realistically thinkin or Duu   replied to  Texan1211 @1.1.1    2 months ago
Some crises are created by policy.

True, mainly because every time the politicians try changing the immigration and border policies they do not plan on how to implement those changes in turn it ends up creating a crisis at our border.

Trying to do anything with no plan always causes problems yet our ignorant politicians cant seem to understand what they are doing wrong, Over and over or they don't really care. 

Policy changes need planning instead we have politicians just writing words with no detailed plan of how to implement their changes. Again and again leading to a crisis at our border. 

I call it insanity. 

 
 
 
Colour Me Free
Junior Quiet
1.1.9  Colour Me Free  replied to  devangelical @1.1.4    2 months ago

Peaceful transition of power .. ?  all president Biden and his team had to was watch the news to foresee the affects of repealing the 'remain in Mexico' policy and building of the 'wall' .. even those against the wall are dumbfounded that now there is a 'wall' with gaps in it... a highway of sorts was created in order to place sections of wall .. 

Biden screwed up .. simple as that .. did he think by revoking Trump policies and ignoring the border it would go away ..?

As long as the southern border remains a super highway, there will always be crisis .. nature of the beast!  I am all for 'comprehensive' immigration reform .. all for compromise in Congress .. alas, they do nothing!

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
1.1.10  seeder  Texan1211  replied to  Colour Me Free @1.1.9    2 months ago

I think it safe to say that most folks are intelligent enough to realize that the transition of power has nothing to do with the crisis, and that some are merely deflecting away from the failed Biden policy.

 
 
 
Colour Me Free
Junior Quiet
1.1.11  Colour Me Free  replied to  Texan1211 @1.1.10    2 months ago

True .. yet 'blame' is the only thing that is bipartisan in this nation...!

 
 
 
1stwarrior
Professor Expert
2  1stwarrior    2 months ago

HHS announced it would relocate the nearly 500 girls to other facilities in the area, or to family members or sponsors.

Yup - 500 more soon-to-be U.S. citizens who don't have to/won't go through the LEGAL citizenship steps required 'cause they haven't been/won't be vetted or even show up for a hearing - if one was even scheduled.

Family members? Oops - sorry - none are available 'cause they're still in Honduras, but we'll give you a make up family for record purposes.

Sponsors???  Oops - sorry - none available, but, here, we'll take you to this other city and drop you off at the local bus station.  You'll find somebody to sponsor you as you are being forced to sell your body for food and clothing.

 
 
 
Colour Me Free
Junior Quiet
2.1  Colour Me Free  replied to  1stwarrior @2    2 months ago
You'll find somebody to sponsor you as you are being forced to sell your body for food and clothing.

There is def a risk of human trafficking .. former President Obama did not intend for unaccompanied minors during his presidency to be exploited...

Unaccompanied minors are a complex situation 1st .. I am a mother . I do not think I would send my child across country with a coyote/cartel .. but if I did, am I fit to have said child returned to me?  unaccompanied minors with phone numbers in their pocket .. are 'we' releasing illegals into the arms of illegals ...?  This would be a good time to have a Crystal Ball....

Peace 1st

 
 
 
1stwarrior
Professor Expert
2.1.1  1stwarrior  replied to  Colour Me Free @2.1    2 months ago

Colour - and, to me, you have just hit the nail on the head.

Everytime I see where a child as young as 6 or 7 or 10 or 12 who was sent by their parents BY THEMSELVES to cross the border, I get so thoroughly pizzed. 

I don't care what your intent is/was, you have INTENTIONALLY put your child's lives in harm's way, which, to me, has told me, and the rest of the world, that you are a WORTHLESS parent and you should go to jail for the rest of your live in your home country.

Those children all stand the chances of being raped, robbed, beaten, getting sick with no medical care, no food, no clothing and numerous other things that they ARE PRESENTLY RECEIVING AT HOME - just so you "might" have them "sponsor you" when they are of legal age (which, right now, doesn't really count with this administration - ANYTHING IS LEGAL).  The child dies - WHO DO YOU BLAME??????  Yourself - completely and fully.

 
 
 
321steve - realistically thinkin or Duu
Sophomore Principal
2.1.2  321steve - realistically thinkin or Duu   replied to  1stwarrior @2.1.1    2 months ago
Those children all stand the chances of being raped, robbed, beaten, getting sick with no medical care, no food, no clothing and numerous other things that they ARE PRESENTLY RECEIVING AT HOME

Or are they ?

From what little I understand many of the countries where these immigrants come from their home life is already the Hell you are describing that they may face here. 

IF these kids are coming from Hell America may be better for them. Maybe those parents know more than we do.

 
 
 
r.t..b...
Masters Participates
2.1.3  r.t..b...  replied to  1stwarrior @2.1.1    2 months ago

What does that tell of the desperation a parent feels to offer their child a chance, against all odds?

Do we summarily dismiss the hopes and dreams of thousands of mothers willing to walk thousands of miles to willfully give up thousands of children?

Imagine the sacrifice that that would take and perhaps we can, at the very least, look at this on a humanitarian level as well as the political. 

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
2.1.4  Kavika   replied to  1stwarrior @2.1.1    2 months ago

I'm sure that you're aware of this saying, 1st. ''Don't judge until you have walked in my mocassins''. 

I wonder how many people commenting on this article have ever been to Central America or Mexico, or even crossed the border into Juarez or any border city, or understand what is happening there and why. Few I would guess. 

The children being sent north on their own have a better chance of surviving and a decent life than they would staying in Central America. 

I doubt very much that the parents in Central America are any different than parents anywhere in the world. They want their children to survive and have a chance at a life. Those parents are facing something that is akin to what native parents faced, the decision being one that was devastating to them. 

Here are a couple of links to articles, there are many more, that will give you an idea of what they are facing. 

From Matthew, Judge not lest you be judged. 

 
 
 
charger 383
PhD Quiet
2.2  charger 383  replied to  1stwarrior @2    2 months ago

500 more burdens for the citizens to pay for

 
 
 
MsAubrey (aka Ahyoka)
Sophomore Principal
3  MsAubrey (aka Ahyoka)    2 months ago

It's sad. I couldn't imagine being a young kid being stuck in those conditions. As a female; do you have any idea how difficult it would be to do your business in a plastic bag??? How scared and humiliated they must feel. I'm not even going to comment on how this became such a debacle. jrSmiley_55_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
3.1  seeder  Texan1211  replied to  MsAubrey (aka Ahyoka) @3    2 months ago

The only truly surprising thing to me is that AOC hasn't shown up for a photo op, lamenting the deplorable conditions while a tear or two trickles down her cheek.

 
 
 
Colour Me Free
Junior Quiet
3.1.1  Colour Me Free  replied to  Texan1211 @3.1    2 months ago

Haha .. I was going to add her to my earlier comment .... has any of the Biden administration gone to the border?

 
 
 
Ronin2
Masters Quiet
3.1.2  Ronin2  replied to  Colour Me Free @3.1.1    2 months ago

They are too busy trying to find underlings looking for a promotion at the BP and DHS to lay the blame on Trump.

 
 
 
Colour Me Free
Junior Quiet
3.1.3  Colour Me Free  replied to  Ronin2 @3.1.2    2 months ago

Ooooo Nooo there has not been a president created that is too busy to blame the previous administration .. especially if that predecessor is Trump .. !  I have been told Trump left the White House in shambles .. broke immigration etc etc...  : )

 
 
 
Tacos!
Professor Expert
4  Tacos!    2 months ago
"It is deeply hurtful and unfair to the folks at NACC that anyone would now think of criticizing them when all they were trying to do is be good Samaritans and help the HHS help these children."

I’m sure there are a lot of unique requirements and regulations for a facility like this. It would be a shame if good people just trying to help were being unfairly scapegoated over this. I’m not sure I see that in the story, but for some reason, some folks at this NACC seem to feel like that is what is happening. 

Neither the White House nor HHS would say how NACC was selected despite having no prior experience housing migrant children or running a migrant holding center.

It amazes me how not-transparent this administration is and so few media watchdogs seem interested in pointing it out or exposing the secrets.

 
 
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