Tensions are mounting between Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the Biden administration as Abbott plans to shut down centers holding 4,500 illegal alien children and visit the border with former President Donald Trump.
Abbott has been outspoken about what he calls Biden’s “disastrous” border policies and penned a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra slamming the federal government’s reliance on the state.
“The federal government must solve the federal problem caused by the Biden administration’s disastrous open-border policies,” Abbott wrote. “Texas will not be commandeered into federal government service.”
Politico reported that Abbot will revoke the licenses of shelters for illegal alien children beginning on August 31 — “a move that threatens to upend the refugee resettlement effort and has left federal health officials threatening to sue.”
The outlet further noted that several other states with Republican governors are declining to help the federal government house illegal alien children.
According to the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, the total number of illegal alien children released to sponsors across the United States between October 2020 and May 2021 numbered 44,265. That compares to 16,837 released between October 2019 and September 2020.
But Texas’s order represents the most drastic attempt by a state to decouple itself from a long-running federal program that relies on state-licensed organizations to shelter migrant children until they can be placed with guardians. HHS has accused Abbott of launching a “direct attack” on the administration’s effort to care for record numbers of unaccompanied children crossing the southern border and said it’s consulting with the Justice Department on necessary legal action.
Under Abbott’s plan, 52 shelters across the state would be forced to halt care for unaccompanied minors or be stripped of the licenses currently needed to remain open. That would leave more than a quarter of the nation’s entire population of migrant kids without anywhere to stay. Texas hasn’t offered any housing alternatives, with Abbott insisting that it’s HHS’ responsibility.
He has also vowed to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall, boasting earlier this month that Texas is “doing more than any other state has ever done to respond to these challenges along the border.”
Abbott has yet to respond to questions HHS Deputy General Counsel Paul Rodriguez sent to him and other Texas officials about the governor’s order, the outlet noted.
“We are exploring our options, for the sake of protecting the safety and well-being of unaccompanied children at licensed facilities in Texas,” an agency spokesperson said in the report.
The Texas governor has criticized the conditions under which the Biden administration is housing unaccompanied alien children, calling one shelter “a health and safety nightmare.”
“The federal government cannot force a state to do the federal government’s job,” Abbott wrote in the letter to Becerra.
Follow Penny Starr on Twitter or send news tips to email@example.com.