San Antonio, TX – On Sunday, Chris Wallace used RAICES’ statement to confront Governor Abbott on his politically motivated actions towards the detention of migrant children at the Freeman Coliseum. Jonathan Ryan, President and CEO at RAICES, released the following statement in response:
“We stand by our statement because this isn’t the first time that Governor Greg Abbott has used the issue of immigration for political purposes. Abbott, in fact, hates immigrant children. There is plenty of evidence to prove that. He supported Trump’s family separation policy, the end of DACA, the passage of SB-4, and even changed the rules in the state to allow for the federal government to detain children and their parents at Karnes detention center.
What Abbott is trying to do right now should be a red flag for anyone who actually cares about the wellbeing of children detained in detention centers. He is attempting to turn the Department of Public Safety and the Texas Rangers into his own deportation force. He is exploiting reports of child abuse inside the Freeman Coliseum as a ruse to force his own law enforcement agents into the facility with the intention of interrogating the children for information about their families in the United States. We can’t let that happen.
If the Governor is serious about his concerns regarding the safety of migrant children, he can ensure that any victims of possible abuse are given a U Visa. U.S. immigration laws direct that, when noncitizens fall victim to certain crimes, including sexual assault, they are eligible for humanitarian protection, including receiving a U Visa. To qualify for protection, a law enforcement officer who is investigating the crime must first certify that an individual has been the victim of a crime.
We call on Governor Abbott to direct the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Rangers to identify and certify any children who their investigations reveal to have been crime victims so that we can alert the immigration court to the availability of a defense to their imminent deportations. If any child is suspected to be a victim of any form of abuse, we also call upon ORR to promptly identify them to our legal teams.
At the heart of this story are children whose lives have been upended, who have been potentially assaulted, and whose long nightmares must come to an end. We demand that Governor Abbott act with the instincts of a parent and not a politician, and that he provide some support to the vulnerable children whom he claims he wants to protect.”