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An “Attack Against Children” – Leading Voices Condemn Gov. Greg Abbott’s Cynical Cruelty

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Leading childrens’ advocates, faith voices, and observers are condemning Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s cynical and cruel executive order instructing state child-care regulators to revoke the licenses of facilities that house unaccompanied immigrant minors, noting that it attacks the most vulnerable among us and is a transparent political stunt that will only harm kids. Among the voices:

  • Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, head of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) stated: “This is a transparent and troubling ploy to politicize a humanitarian crisis. Because Texas-based shelters comprise a significant portion of U.S. capacity, this order could do real damage, and to the serious detriment of children’s well-being.”
  • Wendy Young, President of Kids In Need of Defense (KIND), called Gov. Abbott’s announcement a “wrongheaded approach … At a time when the United States needs far more licensed placement settings for unaccompanied migrant children, the order threatens to leave the nation with far less.” Young also said, “These kids deserve better.”
  • RAICES of Texas had a must-read tweet thread, including: “Abbott is using facilities housing migrant children as a diversion from his terrible governing. If he cared about children in TX then he would spend money on child welfare rather than pouring tons of $ into an unnecessary armed response at the border to children seeking asylum.”
  • Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX), who represents El Paso in Congress, tweeted: “Imagine being a governor and using your power to prevent vulnerable children from access to care they need. @GregAbbott_TX has chosen not to lead or engage in sound policy. Instead, he’s an eager soldier in Trump’s culture wars. This attack is against children. Shame on him.”
  • La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), the Rio Grande Valley community organizing group, issued a “disaster proclamation” over Gov. Abbott’s failed leadership and “political stunts” (see here). In addition to the attack on vulnerable children, Gov. Abbott announced another nativist political stunt, declaring a “disaster declaration” for Texas border counties. LUPE responded with their own “disaster proclamation” over Gov. Abbott’s “failed leadership … In a transparent attempt to distract from his failure of leadership, Abbott issued a disaster declaration for TX border counties. The real threats to Texans are his failure and political stunts.”
  • Why the church is called to help unaccompanied minors” – Austin American-Statesman op-ed by Brenda Kirk of the National Immigration Forum and Christine Sequenzia Titus of the National Association of Evangelicals. While the new op-ed does not address Gov. Abbott or his announcement directly, we hope its message reaches the Governor’s eyes: “We await a humble awakening within the church to see all neighbors as made in the image of God and service toward them as an act of worship.”

As America’s Voice has noted, Gov. Abbott’s political prospects and the Republican primary dynamics are influencing his cynical cruelty. Gov. Abbott has repeatedly inflamed immigration issues to appeal to white grievance voters. This is especially true now that he faces a primary opponent, following his failure to protect his state and its citizens during the recent energy crisis. 

In April of this year, Abbott made sensational and unproven allegations of abuse in a San Antonio facility and called for it to be closed down. He was called out for playing politics and even Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace noted that Gov. Abbott was silent about concerns over migrant children during the Trump era.  

As Mario Carrillo, Texas-based Campaign Manager for America’s Voice says, “Our priority must be to ensure the safety of every child that is seeking asylum or refuge. Gov. Abbott’s priority is his own political career. When Donald Trump was separating children from their parents at the border, we didn’t hear any concerns from Gov. Abbott. So clearly, Abbott doesn’t care about the well-being of children. 

The raw, naked, opportunistic and cruel politics of Gov. Abbott don’t play well with people of conscience. Most of us see children in need and want to help in whatever way possible. Gov. Abbott sees a political symbol and non-white boogieman to attack to curry favor with his base and Donald Trump. I wish Texas politicians would put the values of Texans ahead of their craven political ambitions, but sadly, that is much more to expect from the Governor and other Republicans than they are prepared to deliver.”