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Biden Administration Threatens to Sue Texas Over Unaccompanied Minors Policy

The Health and Human Services claims that Texas’s new policy–which would close down a number of state-licensed facilities–violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The Biden administration has threatened to file a lawsuit against Texas, should the Lone Star State move forward with its plans to prevent federal immigration detention centers from housing unaccompanied minors.

According to CBS News, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration on Memorial Day, in which he directed state officials to stop licensing shelters and foster care programs which house minors in the custody of the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

Shortly after Abbott made the announcement, Texas directed the 52 state-licensed shelters and foster care programs which serve unaccompanied minors to reduce and cease operations by the end of August.

CBS News notes that these 52 state-licensed shelters house approximately 6,200 children.

Former Texas Attorney General and current Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Image via Flickr/user:Gage Skidmore. (CCA-BY-2.0).

However, the Biden administration was quick to protest. In a letter sent to Abbott earlier this week, Health and Human Services attorney Paul Rodriguez said that Texas’s moves against the federal government violate the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The Supreme Clause, says CBS, states that federal law must necessarily supersede conflicting state law.

Rodriguez has given Texas a Friday deadline to explain whether state authorities will extend their directive to shelters and foster care programs managed by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.

“ORR operates 52 state-licensed facilities in Texas, which comprise a significant portion of ORR’s total operational footprint, and represent an indispensable component of the Federal immigration system,” Rodriguez wrote. “If interpreted to reach ORR’s network of grantee-facilities in Texas, the May 31 proclamation would be a direct attack on this system.”

Rodriguez then said that such an attack would pose a major impediment to the ORR’s operations, and run afoul of a federal settlement which requires that unaccompanied minors be placed in facilities that are specifically licensed to care for children.

“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,” Rodriguez said.

But Texas has pushed back, saying the federal government should bear the sole responsibility for dealing with undocumented immigrants.

“The federal government caused this problem and should be solely responsible for the care of these children,” Gov. Abbott said in a statement. “No child will be uncared for. Texas will remain focused on doing our job—protecting Texans.”

Sources

Biden administration threatens to sue after Texas officials say they’ll yank licenses from facilities housing unaccompanied migrant children

Biden administration threatens to sue over Texas’ bid to evict migrant children from state shelters

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