Seen from the Mexican side of the border, the Tornillo shelter is currently holding 200 migrant boys. Some have been separated from their parents. (Carlos Morales / Marfa Public Radio)
A Democratic state lawmaker is calling on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to cancel the deployment of National Guard troops to the border and halt “certain border security practices” in light of the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from parents who it says are crossing the border illegally.
State Rep. Cesar Blanco (D-El Paso) represents the area where a temporary tent city shelter is being built at the Tornillo Port of Entry on the Mexico border. In a letter to Abbott on Monday, he wrote “the deployment of state resources and our state guard to our border directly and indirectly result in the detection and apprehension of some of these asylum seeking migrant families.”
“Texas should not be a condoning and willing partner in this practice of separating families,” Blanco continues.
So far, at least 2,000 migrant children have been separated from their parents, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Texas has sent hundreds of National Guard troops to assist the Border Patrol. They are mostly acting in a support role — not actively arresting people who cross the border illegally. Abbott called up these troops in response to a call from President Trump in April.
On Monday, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, both said they were canceling their Guard deployments to the border because of the administration’s family-separation policy.
So far, Abbott has said little about the policy, but in an interview with NBC 5 in Dallas last week he said the situation was “horrible” and that it “rips everyone’s hearts apart.”
“Listen,” he added, “if the Democrats would agree with [Trump] right now, they could pass a law today that would end the ripping apart of these families and make the border secure.”
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has expressed a similar opinion.
KUT’s attempts to get further comment from Abbott and Patrick have gone unanswered.
Outgoing Texas House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) called the policy “immoral” in a tweet Sunday night.
— Joe Straus (@SpeakerStraus) June 18, 2018
The Trump administration continued to defend the policy Monday. A day after falsely claiming that separating families was not a policy, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen argued that the administration was only following the law and continued to call on Congress to change the law. Members of the administration, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, have said the policy of separating children from their parents would serve as a deterrent to others looking to enter the U.S. illegally.