New border fight pits Texas against Biden over care for 4,500 migrant kids


The Biden management is in an escalating war with Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott over a country plan to close shelters housing more or less 4,500 unaccompanied immigrant kids.

Abbott, who has positioned himself as a first-rate Biden antagonist on immigration beforehand of a ability 2024 presidential bid, plans to revoke the licenses of any refuge that maintains to serve migrant youngsters beginning Aug. 31 — a flow that threatens to upend the refugee resettlement effort and has left federal fitness officers threatening to sue.

Yet a chain of demanding letters between the Department of Health and Human Services and the kingdom this month received with the aid of POLITICO display Abbott striking a defiant tone amid the GOP’s broader campaign to hammer President Joe Biden over immigration and border protection. The showdown is in all likelihood to heighten within the coming days, while Abbott is due to accompany former President Donald Trump on a experience to the border.

“The federal authorities must clear up the federal hassle because of the Biden management’s disastrous open-border guidelines,” Abbott wrote in a current letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Texas will not be commandeered into federal government provider.”

Officials in numerous other GOP-led states have declined to resource HHS’ months-long effort to arrange housing and services for tens of hundreds of migrant children in federal care, privately rejecting the government’s appeals for assist and in a few instances publicly criticizing the opportunity of unaccompanied children getting into their states.

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But Texas’s order represents the maximum drastic try by way of a country to decouple itself from a protracted-running federal software that is predicated on nation-licensed businesses to shelter migrant youngsters till they can be located with guardians. HHS has accused Abbott of launching a “direct assault” at the administration’s attempt to take care of report numbers of unaccompanied youngsters crossing the southern border and said it’s consulting with the Justice Department on important criminal movement.

Under Abbott’s plan, fifty two shelters throughout the nation could be compelled to halt care for unaccompanied minors or be stripped of the licenses currently had to continue to be open.

That would depart greater than a quarter of the kingdom’s entire populace of migrant children with out everywhere to live. Texas hasn’t provided any housing options, with Abbott insisting that it’s HHS’ responsibility.

He has additionally vowed to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall, boasting earlier this month that Texas is “doing greater than any other nation has ever performed to respond to these demanding situations along the border.”

HHS stated it's far still looking ahead to a response to greater than two dozen questions that Deputy General Counsel Paul Rodriguez despatched to Abbott and different Texas officials in search of specifics on how they planned to enforce the order.

“We are exploring our alternatives, for the sake of defensive the safety and properly-being of unaccompanied kids at certified facilities in Texas,” a spokesperson said.

Abbott’s workplace did no longer reply to multiple requests for remark.

Thousands of children will be scattered to shelters around the u . S . If the Texas order were to take effect, former officers and advocates for the unaccompanied minors said. And with the administration already suffering to control an inflow of youngsters, the ones destinations might probable be emergency facilities constructed on military bases and in convention facilities which have confronted scrutiny from each Republicans and Democrats over their situations.

“It’s very hard to see what’s performed,” said Mark Greenberg, a senior fellow on the Migration Policy Institute who led HHS’ Administration for Children and Families in the course of the Obama management. “There’s been large settlement that it’s a good thing for youngsters to be in licensed facilities — that are regulated and monitored — and this attempt simply makes that tougher.”


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Abbott previously criticized the emergency websites that HHS rushed to open in reaction to the pointy upward thrust of border arrivals, calling one safe haven in Texas “a health and protection nightmare” just two-and-a-half months ago.

But in his most current letter to Becerra, Abbott noted the emergency centers as justification for chickening out all country-degree assist, arguing that Texas shouldn’t additionally need to offer up its personal certified centers.

“The federal government cannot pressure a nation to do the federal government’s activity,” he wrote.

Border Patrol migrant facility

MCALLEN, TX - SEPTEMBER 08: A U.S. Border Patrol agent stands close to shelves of garb at a detention facility for unaccompanied minors run by using the Border Patrol on September eight, 2014 in McAllen, Texas. The Border Patrol opened the protecting middle to briefly house the children after tens of heaps of households and unaccompanied minors from Central America crossed the border illegally into america at some point of the spring and summer time. Although the drift of underage immigrants has when you consider that slowed, lots of them stay housed in centers across the United States as immigration courts procedure their instances. (Photo by way of John Moore/Getty Images) appears to violate numerous federal legal guidelines, a view shared by legal professionals who said it’s guaranteed to be challenged in court docket as soon as it takes effect.

“At the maximum fundamental level, states aren’t allowed to discriminate towards federal contractors,” said Spencer Amdur, an lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “They can also’t hinder in any manner the federal government’s ability to work with personal entities.”

Still, the Texas order has sown confusion many of the organizations jogging shelters that rely solely on contracts with the federal government to take care of unaccompanied youngsters and now should devise a fallback plan inside weeks.

State officers have additionally struggled with the way to put into effect Abbott’s order, which presented no precise steering on how it have to be applied and little justification past criticizing the Biden management for its “failure to comfortable the border.”

Abbott in a June eleven letter to Becerra denied that the order could result in facilities being shut down altogether, announcing most effective that they would now not be certified by means of the state. But a notice despatched nine days in advance by Texas’ fitness enterprise to safe haven businesses told them to wind down all sports tied to unaccompanied minors.

One primary refuge operator, BCFS, turned into separately warned through a nation health authentic that it would be fined if it persisted to residence migrant youngsters past Aug. 31, the business enterprise informed POLITICO.

A spokesperson for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission declined to offer information on how it planned to enforce Abbott’s order, pronouncing the company remains running on an implementation technique.

Democrats, meanwhile, have blasted Abbott over what they argue is a political ploy to improve his standing with the Republican base on the expense of susceptible children — a flow made extra obvious by using Trump’s planned go back to the border this week.

“It’s obviously very alarming, unfavorable and very dangerous for children in need,” stated Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), who on Friday hosted Vice President Kamala Harris’ personal border go to. “The governor lengthy ago deserted governing, and he is focused completely on combating the subculture wars.”

Some Republicans on Capitol Hill have also distanced themselves from Abbott’s plan, even as they’ve enthusiastically embraced broader criticisms of the management’s border policy.

Asked approximately the possibility of yanking centers’ licenses, Texas GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw instructed POLITICO he hadn’t regarded into it and wasn’t a “country rep[resentative].” Sen. Ted Cruz additionally said he’d hadn’t talked with Abbott approximately the order and declined to say whether he supported it.

Nevertheless, the war of words risks pulling the management right into a drawn-out combat over an immigration mission that it has worked tough to tamp down throughout the primary months of Biden’s presidency.

After hitting a report high of almost 23,000 unaccompanied kids in federal custody in April, the fitness branch has winnowed the populace down underneath 15,000. That’s a level that stays substantially better than regular, but has allowed it to transport more kids out of emergency centers and into better-fine certified facilities.

Yet even because it lays the foundation for a quick prison venture, officials conceded that there’s little HHS can do to move off Abbott’s order now before it takes effect — setting the level for an extended conflict over the border that could bring properly into the autumn.

“The politics is everything,” Amdur said. “I suppose, basically, they’re doing this to make the administration look awful.”