AUSTIN, TEXAS — Voices from Texas faith and law enforcement communities are responding to an order from Gov. Greg Abbott that would affect unaccompanied migrant children in the state.
On Tuesday, Abbott ordered state regulators to revoke licenses from facilities that house unaccompanied minors who were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border — a move that could force the relocation of more than 4,000 children.
The following are quotes from faith and law enforcement leaders in Texas:
Cynthia N. Colbert, MSW, President and CEO, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston:
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston is guided by our faith and the social teachings of the Catholic church to welcome the stranger and care for the wellbeing of the most poor and vulnerable. Migrant children who come to the U.S. with no adult companions have endured heartbreaking hardships on their journey to a new life in our country. We pray that we are allowed to continue providing the safe, nurturing environment they need while waiting to be reunited with their families.
Sheriff Sally Hernandez, Travis County:
“In Travis County, we understand the critical role that social services play in caring for newcomers and keeping our communities safe. Governor Abbott’s decision to close shelters – and deny services to immigrant children – will force vulnerable minors into more dangerous situations. This decision is not only detrimental to children, but to our communities as well.”
Sara Hilgenberg, Associate Minister of Family Programming and Outreach, First Christian Church of San Angelo:
“Children are one of the greatest treasures that God bestows upon our world. It is they who will shape our future, it is they who will one day lead, it is they who will inspire the next generations, and they all deserve the chance to do so. As the state of Texas is a state that leads, I would ask that our leaders strive to make decisions for these children with compassion and fortitude, and hearts guided by the words of our Lord Jesus Christ who said, ‘Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me’ (Mark 9:36-37).”
Marv Knox, Coordinator, Fellowship Southwest:
“Forcing the closure of shelters protecting children awaiting reunification with their families would punish the weakest and most vulnerable people within our borders. As a follower of Jesus, I take seriously his admonition that we demonstrate how much we love God by how we treat ‘the least of these.”
Jesse Rincones, Executive Director, Hispanic Baptist Convention of Texas:
“Governor Abbott’s decision to withdraw these licenses obstructs the work of faith-based organizations, impedes the service of people of faith, and hampers the federal government from fulfilling its legal obligations to these children. The Governor’s action prohibits Texas Baptists and other Christians from serving as foster parents for these children. Faith-based and non-profit organizations will be stripped of their ability to offer up licensed shelter space. Governor Abbott will be responsible for more kids being held in large shelters with no Texas oversight, diluting the religious freedom for Texas believers, and disrupting the work of Texas non-profits. We’re praying that Governor Abbott will reconsider this position and allow Texas Christians the chance to care for these vulnerable children as an exercise of faith.”
Christine Sequenzia Titus, Policy Director, National Association of Evangelicals; resident of North Dallas, Texas:
“Scripture has compelled Texans throughout history to observe the call to rescue, aid and defend the orphan and refugee (Psalm 82:3-4). We ask Governor Abbott to reconsider his order that would prevent licensed facilities, many of them faith-based, from providing the care to which immigrant children are legally entitled. Extending southern hospitality to these brave children, who have already faced immense suffering and trauma both in their countries of origin and on their journey across the border, serves as a commendable act of worship.”