Most Texans back Biden over Abbott in border policy dispute, poll finds

WASHINGTON — Texans back President Joe Biden’s approach to immigration over Gov. Greg Abbott’s by nearly 10 percentage points, according to a new poll released as the clash between the governor and Biden administration over border policy continues to escalate.

The poll, conducted at the end of May, found 44 percent of Texans approve of Biden’s handling of immigration compared to 35 percent who approve of Abbott’s. The online poll of 506 Texas residents was conducted by Spectrum News and Ipsos and had a margin of error of plus or minus 5.2 percentage points.

The Biden administration on Monday threatened to sue Texas over Abbott’s move to prohibit state-licensed childcare facilities from housing migrants who are in the country illegally, a step that could leave the federal government scrambling to find shelter for thousands of unaccompanied young people.

Abbott in a statement made clear he is not planning to change course, accusing the administration of “commandeering state resources to fulfill the federal government’s responsibility.” 

“The Biden administration is yet again pressuring Texas to aid its illegal immigration program and force our state to do its job,” the governor said. “The federal government caused this problem and should be solely responsible for the care of these children. No child will be uncared for. Texas will remain focused on doing our job — protecting Texans.”

Federal Health and Human Services officials called Abbott’s proclamation “a direct attack” on the immigration system and the Office of Refugee Resettlement that runs the facilities.

“(The resettlement agency) operates 52 state-licensed facilities in Texas, which comprise a significant portion of ORR’s total operational footprint, and represent an indispensable component of the federal immigration system,” Paul Rodriguez, HHS deputy general counsel, wrote in the letter to Abbott.

Abbott, meanwhile, is planning a border security summit with law enforcement officials and local leaders on Thursday, which comes as the governor has said state troopers will begin arresting migrants at the border. 

A University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released in May found Biden had a 44 percent approval rating in Texas, but a 46 percent disapproval rating — with 59 percent of Texans disapproving of the president’s handling of immigration and border security.

This story contains material from the Associated Press.

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