Gov. Greg Abbott owes the public either an explanation or an apology about the serious and unfounded allegations of child abuse he made last month outside Freeman Coliseum.
He either lied about the conditions there, or he eagerly used the unfounded allegations as a photo op.
Either way, the governor has shown he’s willing to use children and the hot-button issue of immigration to satisfy political ambitions. Having lied during February’s winter storm that renewable energy was the reason for the power outage, Abbott has affirmed there’s no meat too red, or raw, to serve the base. And that was before Abbott perpetuated the lie that President Joe Biden’s climate change plan would reduce the number of hamburgers Americans can, annually, eat.
The Biden administration is using the Freeman Coliseum as a temporary facility for unaccompanied immigrant minors. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and its Office of Refugee Resettlement is operating the facility. Abbott saw it as a backdrop to level the ugliest of accusations, the harming of a child.
Abbott said complaints were made to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission on the morning of April 7. Based on nothing more, he called a press conference for late afternoon at the coliseum. It may have been the first time that within hours of a report of alleged child abuse, but before any investigation, a Texas governor traveled to the site where the alleged abuse occurred and demanded it be closed. All without touring the site or speaking to those in charge.
It was only after Bexar County Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores, who volunteers every weekend at the shelter, followed Abbott to the microphones and disputed his allegations, that Abbott toured the shelter. She said during his tour he was a gracious and concerned visitor who asked questions. But in none of his questions or comments inside the coliseum did he repeat the allegations he made outside the coliseum.
Outside, Abbott had called the facility a “health and safety nightmare.” Inside, he thanked the volunteers for their work and he received a pair of standing ovations from the children, Clay-Flores said.
It has been a month and nothing has come of Abbott’s allegations. They’ve, reportedly, not even come up in the Texas Department of Public Safety’s briefings.
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff has called the accusations “completely false.” Without any evidence or further explanation, it’s hard to disagree with Wolff’s assessment.
Any and all accusations of child abuse and neglect must be investigated thoroughly. But, in real time, Abbott appears to be playing politics.
During the Trump administration, as well as the Obama administration, there were thousands of complaints about sexual abuse at migrant shelters. Why has Abbott raised his voice now in this instance? Why raise doubts about an operation that many in the San Antonio community have praised as a model and humane response to an influx of migrants?
Either out of whole or the thinnest of cloths, the Texas governor used explosive, unfounded child abuse and neglect allegations to score political points.
Maybe that qualifies as “good” politics, these days. For us, it’s not just wrong, but vile.
San Antonio Express-News