After a visit this week to San Antonio's federal shelter for unaccompanied minor asylum seekers, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted that he's "absolutely concerned" it could harbor members of drug gang MS-13.
As proof, Paxton, a Republican, linked an article from the far-right news outlet Epoch Times, in which he himself alleged that unaccompanied minors become part of the transnational criminal organization.
Currently, the Biden administration is housing some 1,600 teenage border crossers at Freeman Coliseum is attempts to connect them with family members in the U.S. so they can wait out their asylum cases.
"We’ve already shown from the past that some of these unaccompanied minors end up in MS-13," Paxton said in the tweet.
This week I visited the facility in San Antonio full of 2,000 unaccompanied minor boys. After seeing this, I’m absolutely concerned about the nexus with MS-13, or “Mara Salvatrucha.” We’ve already shown from the past that some of these unaccompanied minors end up in MS-13. https://t.co/ISRRNLk6PS— Attorney General Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) April 14, 2021
The AG's claim flies in the face of a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation by ProPublica that shot holes in the Trump administration's repeated allegations that unaccompanied minors are frequently connected to MS-13.
Over recent years, right-wing politicians and media have used the criminal gang as a boogeyman as they seek stricter immigration controls.
Paxton's allegation comes on the heels of an April 8 press conference where Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a fellow Republican, used similarly sensational claims to politicize the Freeman shelter.
Abbott demanded the Biden administration shut down the facility, saying two state agencies received tips about sexual abuse there. By Abbott's own admission, he'd not yet toured the site and the state hadn't yet begun an investigation of the claims.
Paxton, who's mired in accusations that he abused his office to benefit a campaign donor, earlier this week sued the Biden administration to force it to reinstate the Trump White House's policy of forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases play out.
Human rights groups condemned that policy as inhumane, saying it exposed refugees to abuse by criminals and unsanitary conditions in makeshift camps.
Stay on top of San Antonio news and views. Sign up for our Weekly Headlines Newsletter.
Support Local Journalism.
Join the San Antonio Current Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the San Antonio Press Club for as little as $5 a month.