Biden Responds to Texas
Texas Governor Greg Abbott began June with a series of new laws and regulations for his home state of Texas. Among them was a call to cut funding for shelters housing migrant children who crossed the Southern border without their parents. However, Abbott overreached, the shelters he targeted are federally funded, which caused President Biden and his administration to negatively respond to the situation early this week.
The Governor's directive instituted that licenses will be revoked for shelters found housing migrant children and all children must be moved out of these facilities by the end of August. Texas has been battling the Biden Administration endlessly since its inauguration but it has never been in such a concrete way, until now. Abbott over-extended his governance and now the federal government is stepping in to protect their assets.
U.S. law dictates that migrant children crossing borders without their parents are to be held in Customs and Border Protection facilities for three days max. At which point they are shifted into the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a branch of the Department of Health and Human Services. Once settled with ORR, migrant children are housed in state-licensed care facilities while local officials seek a proper long-term home for the kids, which takes about one month on average.
Abbott overstepped his role in the governmental system when he called for the end of these 52 facilities. General Counsel Paul Rodriguez of the HHS sent the Texas governor a warning letter earlier this week. Rodriguez offered Abbott until Friday, June 11 to announce whether or not he would continue his pursuit to close his state’s facilities.
An excerpt from the letter Rodriguez sent said that “ORR operates 52 state-licensed facilities in Texas…[Abbot’s] May 31 Proclamation would be a direct attack on this system.” It went on to point out that Abbott’s orders to pull licenses were unlawful and that based on immigration law, the U.S. government does not consider children under the care of ORR facilities as “unlawful immigrants” as Abbott continues to suggest and so he has no grounds to remove them from care.
Rodriguez continues, by outlining the federal government’s exclusive power over immigration policies and saying that should Abbott continue his pursuit of license-revoking, he will violate the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The letter from HHS also warned of the legal action that could follow if Abbott maintains his course, saying that “although we prefer to resolve this matter amicably…HHS is consulting the U.S. Department of Justice and intends to pursue whatever appropriate legal action is necessary” to make him stop and resolve the situation quickly.
The influx of immigrants through the U.S.-Mexico border since Biden’s inauguration has had southern states preoccupied with new problems. Texas is one of the most impacted states and is recording record numbers of new immigrants flowing through the border over the last six months. As of mid-May, a census showed roughly 7,000 total migrant children in the network of ORR facilities, at the time of this poll more than half of them were being housed within the borders of Texas. Beyond that, the federal government still has nearly 17,000 unaccompanied children in custody awaiting their turn to find homes, or at least some improved form of housing.
The border crisis caused by the unending flood of immigrants is undeniable and yet the federal government is denying Texas aid in the ways that they need it. Governor Abbott took a stand in defense of what he thought was best for his state and President Biden is doing what he thinks is best for immigrants who want to enter our country. The situation is currently ongoing and the governor of Texas will respond with his next move soon.