Editorial other views

The following editorial published in the (Harlingen) Valley Morning Star on June 4:

Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday issued a state of emergency along the border relative to the “ongoing surge of individuals unlawfully crossing the Texas-Mexico border …” and suspended several state laws. One of them suspends parts of the State Human Resources Code, “and all other relevant laws,” in order to “direct the Texas Health and Human Services Commission … to take all necessary steps to discontinue state licensing of any child-care facility in this state that shelters or detains unlawful immigrants or other individuals not lawfully present in the United States under a contract with the federal government.”

The order, one of several in the disaster declaration, could deprive thousands of children, some of them mere infants, of shelter and services and thus put their health and lives at risk.

Abbott, who is up for re-election next year and secured former President Trump’s endorsement on Tuesday, defended his declaration Wednesday on some television news programs. He said the declaration was a response to increased activity and crime by drug cartels in border areas — activity that the government’s own data don’t reflect. Even if it did exist, it’s hard to imagine how such crimes would be committed by infants and toddlers being held in child-care centers.

To its credit, the state Department of Health and Human Services quickly announced that it would review the governor’s order, but initially did not intend to close any facilities.

If the target specifically is the recent wave of unaccompanied children coming from Central America, those children are the only ones harmed by the order. Those immigrants, however, likely aren’t the only people affected by the order; it is vague enough to apply to other child-care facilities, the majority of which are small, private establishments that aren’t equipped to check the residency status of their clients. Closing them would punish all families such a center would serve, and could force some parents to leave their jobs because they had no one else to care for their children, or decide to leave those children at home unattended.

Moreover, some shelters were set up to serve abused women and children. Depriving them of such safe havens when their need for protection already exists is unconscionable.

Certainly, a crisis exists on our border. It’s a humanitarian crisis caused by the arrival of immigrants in numbers too great for our Homeland Security agencies to handle. We also face an economic crisis from continued restrictions on legal border crossings. Such economic constraints reduce the resources that local officials have to combat any crime that does exist, and the reduced economic opportunity could drive some people to seek income by committing the very crimes we’re ostensibly trying to prevent.

If more immigrants are crossing the border, strengthen the border. If crime is increasing — even though such an increase isn’t apparent — go after the criminals. Persecuting defenseless children, who aren’t the cause of our border problems, not only aims at the wrong targets but unnecessarily adds new dangers to those they already face.

Gov. Abbott should rethink his disaster order.

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(1) comment

C Droost

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

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