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American Opinion: Gov. Greg Abbott has gone too far on migrant children

Summary: Morally, Gov. Greg Abbott, you have called on Texans to turn our backs on those who can most benefit, not only themselves but Texas and the world, from education. The large majority of Texans will not accept that.

Border Patrol officers process a migrant family after they crossed the Rio Grande into the United States on Thursday, May 5, 2022, in Roma, Texas.
Border Patrol officers process a migrant family after they crossed the Rio Grande into the United States on Thursday, May 5, 2022, in Roma, Texas.
Brandon Bell/Getty Images/TNS
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Gov. Abbott, you have gone too far.

When you made securing the border a key public initiative and spent billions of dollars in taxpayer funds, we were reluctant to criticize you, despite questionable execution of your plans and thin results in return.

We agreed with you time and again that the federal government has done too little for too long to slow the flow of thousands of migrants a day across the southern border. We called for better enforcement and greater resources for the humane and timely processing of asylum claims.

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American Opinion

But we cannot accept this cruel and short-sighted suggestion that Texas should challenge long-established law that requires the state to provide a public education to unauthorized immigrant children.

You are not wrong, governor, that the federal government should share in the cost. The burden should not fall squarely on taxpayers in border states. Had you stopped there in your comments and thoughts, you likely would have had our support.

But in the safe embrace of right-wing radio, where going too far is never far enough, you revealed a far more concerning thought — one that would be harmful to children, to Texas, to the United States and to the home countries that immigrants fled in fear of violence and in hope of a life not defined by threats and poverty.

You are wrong, governor, politically, legally and morally that Texas should challenge Plyler v. Doe and attempt to upend the precedent requiring the education of unauthorized immigrant children.

Politically, you wandered well outside the mainstream, where we believe most Texans will not follow you. Further, you lent credence to precisely what Justice Samuel Alito, in his leaked draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, went to great pains to write would not happen, and that is the idea that long-established precedents of the court would be subject to the same scrutiny being given to Roe.

Conservatives who oppose Roe can now watch you be cited as the first example of that very thing happening.

Legally, you failed to recognize that Justice William Brennan and a court majority were correct in their interpretation of the law in Plyler that immigrant children are indeed people “in any ordinary sense of the term” and are entitled to protection under the 14th Amendment.

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Brennan was also right when he wrote that education plays “a fundamental role in maintaining the fabric of our society.” It is a basic tool by which “individuals might lead economically productive lives to the benefit of us all.”

Morally, you have called on Texans to turn our backs on those who can most benefit, not only themselves but Texas and the world, from education. The large majority of Texans will not accept that.

We believe in a secure border. We believe in the right of nations to enforce the law when it comes to immigration.

But, governor, at long last, sir, enough is enough.

This American Opinion editorial is the opinion of the editorial board of the Dallas Morning News.
©2022 The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

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