The Biden Administration denied Gov. Greg Abbott’s request to use Texas Department of Public Safety personnel to interview migrant children in shelters located in Dallas, Midland and Carrizo Springs.
Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday announced his intention to use DPS personnel to crack down on human trafficking stemming from border crossings and screen children who entered into the U.S. alone as part of an expansion to the currently implemented Operation Lone Star.
“We have a duty to crack down on this heinous crime and prevent more children from being trafficked and abused,” the governor said Wednesday during a press conference held opposite of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, which is currently being used as an Emergency Intake Site by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement.
In the last several months, more children have been entering the country alone.
About 4,500 children were being held inside Border Patrol facilities and nearly 9,500 were in the care of the Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement as of Wednesday, according to information shared by administration officials.
“As part of this expansion,” a news release announced Wednesday, “Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) troopers and agents, as well as the Texas Rangers, will conduct interviews with unaccompanied minors who crossed the border to identify victims of human trafficking and gain actionable intelligence that will aid in the arrest of traffickers.”
Additionally, the governor requested access into the emergency intake site in Dallas, another hard-sided emergency intake site in Midland, and a temporary influx facility at Carrizo Springs. The sites provide the federal government with the capacity to move more children out of Border Patrol facilities and into shelters where parents or sponsors in the United States can claim them.
“The Governor also requested that the Biden Administration allow DPS to access the unaccompanied minor holding facility in Dallas, as well as other federally-run facilities in Texas, to conduct interviews with unaccompanied minors,” the release also stated.
On Thursday, however, administration officials said the governor’s request to screen migrant children would duplicate existing policies, and noted children are often traumatized by the experiences they face in their journeys.
“So we are very protective, as I’m sure folks can understand, making sure that children are not re-traumatized by having to recount things that they have faced to every public official who wishes to speak to them,” administration officials said.
They emphasized their vetting process screens against child trafficking and keeps track of the adults who claim children from their custody.