The Biden White House threatened to push legal action if Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott does not cancel his order shutting down shelters that contain migrant children who illegally crossed the border.
In a letter, the deputy general counsel for the U.S. HHS told the GOP governor that even if the state issues the licenses for such shelters, Congress has asked the HHS to care for the children.
He warned the Governor not to interfere with the operations and threatened that HHS will pursue legal action if the state continues closing down shelters.
“The Office of Refugee Resettlement manages 52 facilities in the state, which is made of a significant part of ORR’s whole footprint, and is an indispensable part of the national immigration system,” Paul Rodriguez, HHS counsel, said in the letter to Governor Abbott and two other Texas leaders. The “measure would be a direct assault against this system.”
The letter pushes for Abbott to clarify his decision by June 11 whether his order applies to 52 shelters that are funded with federal money. It says the law states these children “do not have unlawful presence” while they are inside the country, challenging Abbott’s decision to call the children “unlawful immigrants.”
Over half of illegal children contained by the federal government in facilities are in the state of Texas. The latest census done on May 19 revealed 4,223 children in these locations and around 7,000 in the whole nationwide network of shelters.
Biden’s so-called emergency intake locations were started in March at convention centers, then military bases and other places. They appear like hurricane shelters, with little space or privacy. Lawmakers who have gone to these locations have showed concerns about the children’s mental well being.
Governor Abbott has also been critical of the facilities that do not have state licenses, but some people say his order would transfer more children to the larger locations.
In the Biden letter, the administration states that Texas would discriminate against organizations who receive federal grants to manage these shelters. That would go against the doctrine of intergovernmental immunity and the constitution’s Supremacy Clause, which says federal law overtakes state or local laws.
Author: Scott Dowdy