By Tom Ozimek
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ramped up his criticism of President Joe Biden for what he said were policies that turned the “humanitarian crisis” along the southern border into a “complete disaster.”
Abbott made the remarks in a statement Friday and an accompanying message on Twitter.
“The Biden Admin. has turned a humanitarian crisis into a complete disaster,” Abbott wrote in a tweet, singling out a drinking-water problem at a site used to house illegal immigrants in Midland and “massive” COVID-19 outbreak at a facility in Carrizo Springs.
“They were unprepared for open border policies,” he added.
Detailing the issues in the statement, Abbott took aim at conditions at facilities used to house unaccompanied minors.
“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,” Abbott said.
“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,” Abbot added. “The administration must act now to keep these children safe, secure our border, and end this humanitarian crisis.”
Abbott said he has deployed Texas Department of State Health Services resources and personnel to Carrizo Springs to investigate and combat the COVID-19 outbreak at the federally run facility. He also said the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality has notified the Midland facility of their need to address the serious water issues.
In an appearance on Fox News, Abbott said that the federal facility’s water could contain arsenic or other contaminants.
“There is no viable, usable running water at the location in Midland,” he told the outlet.
A spokesperson for the commission confirmed to The Epoch Times that an advisory had been issued for the facility out an “abundance of caution.”
“The Do Not Use advisory is being issued in an abundance of caution to protect against possible risks from water ingestion,” the spokesperson said in an email. “The water may be used for flushing of toilets and clothes washing but should not be used for human consumption purposes such as drinking, cooking, bathing, or washing hands.”
Abbott’s criticism comes as the numbers of children and families caught trying to enter the United States illegally from Mexico has grown to magnitudes unseen since before the pandemic. Customs and Border Protection has noted a more than 100 percent month-over-month increase in February in two categories of illegal aliens—family units and unaccompanied minors.
Immediately after taking office, Biden signed a series of executive actions aimed at undoing many of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, including proposing a pathway to citizenship for millions of people in the United States unlawfully, promised to “create a humane asylum system,” and opting to no longer expel unaccompanied minors who turn up at the border, resulting in more children coming into U.S. custody.
A pandemic health order means that most adults and families who enter the United States illegally are being turned away, but the Biden administration has allowed unaccompanied children under the age of 18 to enter while their claims are processed.
As of March 14, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents were holding more than 13,000 unaccompanied children in custody, according to CBS News.
In a bid to persuade would-be immigrants not to rush the border, the Biden administration has rolled out “more aggressive” communications. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was interviewed on four Sunday news shows in an effort to drive this home.
“Our message has been straightforward—the border is closed,” Mayorkas said. “We are expelling families. We are expelling single adults. And we’ve made a decision that we will not expel young, vulnerable children.”
Biden, too, has urged would-be immigrants not to travel to the border, telling them in an interview with ABC News, “Don’t leave your town or city or community.”
But while the Biden administration has insisted that people should still follow the legal process for entering the country and that the border has not, as some contend, been flung open, the recent surge of illegal immigration suggests that is how it’s being interpreted by many.
Edgar Benjamin Paz, a Honduran man whose family’s tent is among the hundreds that have filled every spot in a Mexican plaza in Tijuana, near the busiest U.S.-Mexico border crossing, told The Associated Press in a recent interview that many migrants have interpreted the Biden administration’s messaging on immigration to mean the border was “open.”
Besides rebuke from Republicans, some Democrats have also weighed in critically. The Democratic mayor of a southern border town told the New York Post in an interview on Sunday that he’s incensed over the Biden administration’s handling of the immigration crisis in his backyard.
“You have a breach on national security levels that have never before been seen in modern history and you’re not even batting an eye about it, you’re not even calling it a ‘crisis,’ you’re calling it a ‘challenge,’” Mayor Bruno Lozano, a Democrat who represents Del Rio, Texas, told the outlet.
“It’s a slap in the face,” Lozano added.
Biden officials and congressional Democrats have attempted to deflect blame for the border crisis.
“As we were coming into the administration, we knew we were inheriting an absolute mess from the previous administration—that there were aspects of our legal immigration system that had been gutted and a department that lacked the personnel to administer our laws,” said Julie Chavez Rodriguez, the director of the White House’s office of intergovernmental affairs, in an interview on CNN.