Physicians and Advocates Call on Governor Abbott to Rescind A Dangerous Directive
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June 3, 2021
Dear Governor Abbott,
As concerned physicians, public health professionals, child advocates, and citizens of the great State of Texas, we are writing to urge you to rescind the directive to end state licensing for childcare facilities and shelters that are housing recently arrived unaccompanied immigrant children. We must recognize that this is a humanitarian issue that negatively impacts children, through no fault of their own and due entirely to well documented political, social, and economic upheaval in their home communities.
Prior to leaving for the United States, these children face threats, violence, lack of food and other basic needs. It is out of desperation that their caregivers choose to send them away. During the journey to the United States, these children continue to face physical danger, abuse, and fatigue.
After arrival into our country, unaccompanied children are then forced to face the stress of enforcement. This includes being housed in spaces which are not meant for children. Children must be detained according to guidelines established in the Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA), the Homeland Security Act of 2002, and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. The FSA establishes protections to ensure safe housing, nutrition, and medical care. Sadly, not a single Federal administration has been in compliance with the FSA since 1997. As these facilities will continue to be housed in the state of Texas, we have a responsibility to ensure that they are meet standards to protect vulnerable and innocent children.
Without state licensure and oversight, we fear that these children could be housed in facilities that are unsuitable, unsafe, and detrimental to their health and well-being. The requirement that these facilities be licensed serves as one measure of accountability for the health and well-being of these children.
Regardless of where they were born or where they might go, children should not be punished for decisions that adults have made on their behalf. They should be given every opportunity to live free of fear, in safe shelters, with access to adequate care.
Once again, we ask that you rescind the order to revoke licenses from facilities that receive federal support to house unaccompanied minor children.
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