In his order, Abbott specifically mentioned a recent incident in La Joya, Texas. Local police had been called in response to a migrant family who were eating in a local restaurant and who “appeared to be sick,” MyRGV News reported. The migrant family told the police they were quarantining at a nearby hotel after testing positive for COVID-19.
Pimentel called the La Joya incident “an isolated case” that has led to “a great deal of misinformation.”
Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville on Wednesday contested the governor’s characterization of the migrants helped by local Catholic Charities as “illegal.”
“Catholic Charities RGV assists families who are referred to us by Border Patrol, a Federal entity,” he noted on Twitter.
“How can the Governor’s order identify them as ‘illegal’ and how does looking for them not constitute racial profiling of persons legally in the US?” he asked.
Governor Abbott has declined to aid the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in its effort to house thousands of migrant children amid a surge at the border.
In a letter to HHS director Xavier Becerra, Abbott cited hastily-erected emergency federal facilities as justification for withdrawing state support of the federal effort to house migrant children. Abbott has also pledged to continue building a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Confidential data obtained by the Associated Press shows the number of migrant children in government custody more than doubled from April to May of 2021. In April, border authorities encountered 18,890 unaccompanied minors - an all-time high.
Abbott plans to revoke the licenses of any shelter in the state that houses migrant children beginning Aug. 31, Politico reported. The May 31 declaration is set to strip the licenses of at least six Catholic Charities agencies, including CCRGV, meaning they may have to close.
If the state’s Catholic Charities agencies lose their license and are forced to close, two of the state’s bishops have said that hundreds of Texas-born children will be transferred to the state’s foster care system which is already stressed.
In a video published on April 6, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones - known for falsely claiming the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax - alleged that a man driving a car with migrant children outside a Catholic Charities humanitarian center in McAllen, Texas, was “smuggling” the children.
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In response, Catholic Charities Rio Grande Valley said the video was “inaccurate and unauthorized,” stating the video in fact shows “families and children peacefully entering the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen.”