Jun 2, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Texas governor moves to close shelters housing migrant children

Greg Abbott

Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo: Lynda M. Gonzalez-Pool/Getty Images

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued a disaster declaration that directs state child-care regulators to "take all necessary steps" to deny or discontinue within 90 days state licenses for any facilities that house migrant children.

Why it matters: The directive could force the relocation of 4,223 migrant children currently residing in state-licensed facilities in Texas, according to the Dallas Morning News reports.

  • There are roughly 17,000 unaccompanied children in the United States.
  • Texas currently has 52 state-licensed general residential operations and child-placing agencies, which partner with the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement to care for undocumented children, per the Dallas Morning News.

What they're saying: “The Biden administration’s immigration policies are failing Texans, causing a humanitarian crisis in many Texas communities along the border,” Abbot said in the order, which was dated May 31.

The Department of Health and Human Services said it was assessing Abbott's directive, but it does not intend to close any facilities as a result of the order.

  • "HHS’s top priority is the health and safety of the children in our care," Sarah Lovenheim, a spokesperson for HHS tweeted.

The big picture: "Some critics worry [Abbott's order] could set a precedent for other Republican governors to thwart efforts by the Biden administration to increase capacity in a network of licensed shelters," AP noted.

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