TEXAS – The United States Department of Heath and Human Services informed Gov. Greg Abbott he must maintain youth immigrant housing or face consequences per a letter released on June 7, 2021.
On May 31 Gov. Abbott released a proclamation addressing the boarder crisis in Texas, part of this document pertains to illegal alien children housed in Texas foster care facilities, "I hereby direct the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to take all necessary steps to discontinue state licensing of any child-care facilities that shelters or detains unlawful immigrants. . ." and continues that such licensing will be issued for only 90 day increments in the future to discourage future housing of illegal alien children. Currently 4,223 unaccompanied children are housed among 52 state-licensed facilities (per census findings) which work in concert with the Federal HHSC's Office of Refuge Resettlement (ORR). These operations house children while attempting to find family sponsors to take responsibility for the children.
Abbott's decree will see these children moved to Federally operated emergency housing sites or Border Detainment facilities. On June 7 the Federal Department of Health and Human Services responded in a letter citing legal precedent of Federal Supremacy which forbids states from obstructing federal initiatives.
“The Government of the United States has broad, undoubted power over the subject of immigration and the status of aliens. This authority rests, in part, on the National Government’s constitutional power to ‘establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization,'" as seen in Arizona vs. United States
The letter also takes offense to Abbot'ts use of the term "unlawful immigrants" in reference to minors requesting they be referred to as "unaccompanied alien children" instead.
HHSC continues that the 52 Texan facilities comprise "a significant portion of the ORR's total operational footprint, and represent an indispensable component of the Federal immigration system". The HHSC maintains that Abbott should rescind his statement and authorize the housing facilities to continue their current operation or face legal action, "Although we prefer to resolve this matter amicably, in light of the legal issues outlined above, HHS is consulting the U.S. Department of Justice and intends to pursue whatever appropriate legal action is necessary to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the vulnerable youth that Congress entrusted to ORR."
Abbot responded in a statement Tuesday saying, "The Biden Administration is yet again pressuring Texas to aid its illegal immigration program and force our state to do its job. Commandeering state resources to fulfill the federal government’s responsibility is a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Here in Texas, we will follow that law. . . The federal government caused this problem and should be solely responsible for the care of these children. No child will be uncared for. Texas will remain focused on doing our job — protecting Texans.”