The Biden administration on Monday announced that it is prepared to sue Texas after Gov. Greg Abbott directed state officials to press forward with plans to force shelters in the state to stop housing migrant children in federal custody.
In a disaster declaration issued on Memorial Day, Abbott ordered Texas child care regulators revoke the licenses of state-licensed facilities that provide shelter and foster care programs to migrant children. Texas authorities have since instructed 52 state-licensed facilities that house over 8,600 migrant children to cease operations by Aug. 30.
The Biden administration has responded by threatening to sue the state. Federal attorney Paul Rodriguez has called the state’s decision a “direct attack” on federal refugee resettlement efforts.
In a letter sent to Abbott on Monday, Rodriguez argued that such a move would violate the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution and gave Texas until Friday to clarify whether state authorities plan to apply the directive to shelters overseen by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).
“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 in the letter. “If interpreted to reach ORR’s network of grantee-facilities in Texas, the May 31 Proclamation would be a direct attack on this system.”
While Rodriguez expressed his hope that the matter could be resolved amicably, he emphasized that HHS “intends to pursue whatever appropriate legal action is necessary to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the vulnerable youth that Congress entrusted to ORR.”