Texas Officials: COVID-19 Outbreak, Potentially Unsafe Water at Facilities Holding Illegal Aliens

March 20, 2021 Updated: March 21, 2021

Texas officials said potentially unsafe water has been found at a border facility holding illegal immigrant children, while a COVID-19 outbreak was seen at two facilities holding the youth.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality issued a Do Not Use advisory to Cotton Logistics, which runs a holding camp in Midland, because of the unknown quality of the drinking water there, a spokesperson for the commission confirmed to The Epoch Times.

“The Do Not Use advisory is being issued in an abundance of caution to protect against possible risks from water ingestion. 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,” the spokesperson said in an email.

Gov. Greg 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,” the Republican said during an appearance on Fox News.

Cotton Logistics is preparing a plan, subject to approval from state authorities, to haul potable water to the site in the meanwhile. The company and the Biden administration didn’t respond to requests for comment.

A Health and Human Services spokesperson told The Associated Press that the Midland facility, which it oversees, has water “deemed potable” that’s tested regularly above standards.

“We are in contact with our contractor to ensure clean water is accessible for kids and staff in the facility,” the spokesperson said.

Authorities also discovered on Friday that more than 10 percent of the population at facilities in Midland and Carrizo Springs have tested positive for COVID-19.

unaccompanied minors
Unaccompanied minors hold hands amid adult illegal immigrants from Central America as they await transport after crossing the Rio Grande river into the United States from Mexico on a raft in Penitas, Texas, on March 12, 2021. (Adrees Latif/Reuters)

“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. From a lack of safe drinking water in one location to a COVID-19 outbreak in another, the Biden administration has no excuse for subjecting these children to these kinds of conditions,” Abbott, said in a statement.

“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. The administration must act now to keep these children safe, secure our border, and end this humanitarian crisis.”

Officials deployed Texas Department of State Health Services resources and personnel to Carrizo Springs to investigate, while the state’s Commission of Environmental Quality has contacted the other facility to inform them they need to deal with the water issues.

The U.S. has seen a surge in migrants since President Joe Biden took office in January. Statistics show that agents apprehended a total of 100,441 illegal aliens along the southwest border—a 28 percent increase compared to January.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on March 16 that the country is “on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years.”

Since taking office, Biden has reversed a number of immigration and border policies from the Trump administration, including halting border wall construction and reinstating “catch and release,” a process where illegal aliens are allowed into the country while waiting for their asylum claims to be heard.

Biden also sent a radical proposal to Congress on his first day in office that seeks to provide a pathway to U.S. citizenship for an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants. Last month, Democrats introduced a reform bill—the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021—that closely models Biden’s proposal.

Abbott warned Wednesday that the number of illegal crossings will only continue to surge.

Zachary Stieber and Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.

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