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Gov. Abbott slams Biden after reports that baby formula is available at immigrant holding facilities

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Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT News
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KUT News
As of late last month, the baby formula out-of-stock rate was greater than 50% in Texas and a handful of other states. The shortage has been caused by supply chain issues and a recall from Abbott, one of the country’s largest manufacturers of formula.

The governor issued a joint statement with the president of the national border patrol union that blasts Biden for giving “critical supplies to illegal immigrants.”

Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday issued a joint statement with a U.S. Border Patrol union representative slamming the Biden administration for reportedly providing infant formula to undocumented immigrants amid a shortage of the staple nationwide.

“While mothers and fathers stare at empty grocery store shelves in a panic, the Biden Administration is happy to provide baby formula to illegal immigrants coming across our southern border. This is yet another one in a long line of reckless, out-of-touch priorities from the Biden Administration when it comes to securing our border and protecting Americans,” the statement reads.

“Our children deserve a president who puts their needs and survival first – not one who gives critical supplies to illegal immigrants before the very people he took an oath to serve."

A Republican lawmaker from Florida, U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack, posted photos on social media of what she said was baby formula at an immigrant detention facility in the Rio Grande Valley, Newsweek reported. But the publication also reported that an official at the facility said there was no formula there as it only held adults.

The Department of Homeland Security, which includes the U.S. Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

As of late last month, the out-of-stock rate for formula was greater than 50% in Texas and a handful of other states, NPR reported. The shortage has been caused by a recall from Abbott, one of the country’s largest manufacturers of baby formula, and supply chain issues that continue to plague some sectors of the country.

United We Dream, an immigrant advocacy group, said Abbott was creating “dangerous” narratives and stoking division.

“There is a nationwide baby formula shortage. Instead of working for a solution where ALL babies can be fed, Republicans like Greg Abbott are trying to divide us by creating dangerous and false narratives and demanding that formula be denied for immigrant children. It’s shameless,” the group tweeted.

In a response to Abbott, U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso, tweeted Thursday “Republicans are the party of raising taxes on the poorest among us, refusing healthcare to those who need it most, giving guns more rights than women, starving babies. Got it.”

The statement with National Border Patrol Council president Brandon Judd, a vocal supporter of former president Donald Trump and contributor for Fox News, is the latest in Abbott’s efforts to portray himself as a border and immigration hardliner leading up to his November election contest with former El Paso U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke.

Abbott last year launched the controversial Operation Lone Star border-security mission, which has cost billions of dollars and been criticized by Democrats and immigrant rights activists as a reelection campaign stunt. There have also been four deaths by suicide of National Guard units deployed to the border, and last month a soldier died during a rescue attempt in the Rio Grande. He also recently hinted at challenging a long-standing court ruling on public education after telling a conservative talk show host that Texas faced “extraordinary” challenges educating children who don’t speak English, KUT reported.

On Thursday afternoon the White House released a statement outlining the steps it was taking to reverse the shortage of baby formula and restock supplies, including “cutting red tape”.

“Simplifying product offerings allows manufacturers to increase the speed and scale of their infant formula production, stabilizing the overall volume of formula available in the market,” the statement reads.

The plan also includes increasing imports of formula and calling on states and the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on price gouging.

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Got a tip? Email Julián Aguilar at jaguilar@kera.org.You can follow Julián on Twitter @nachoaguilar.