Governor Abbott and Republicans in Texas will tell you that they’re very, very, very concerned about children. Particularly before they’re born. Even when they’re the size of a grain of rice and have a tail, indistinguishable from a tadpole, at around 6 weeks of gestation.
But when children are “post-birth” and old enough that the State of Texas might have to use tax dollars to pay to care for them when their own birth parents can’t or won’t? Suddenly Texas Republicans have amnesia about their much-vaunted concern for kids.
Yesterday, US District Judge Janis Jack cut short, after only 3 hours, a hearing that was scheduled to run for two days about the Abbott administration’s utter failure to care for the often-unwanted and most vulnerable children who end up in the state’s foster care system.
“I don’t know if anything would be served by continuing the hearing,” Judge Jack said, given how the state has been giving lawyers for children in foster care the runaround for years.
Abbott is more than willing to fund another study of the problem — to put off doing anything for another few years — but it looks like that’s no longer an acceptable excuse for letting these kids suffer more harms.
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Already, while the state has “studied” the situation for a decade, children are sleeping on office floors, crashing in fleabag motels, failing to get therapy or medications they need, and being sexually and physically abused. In this hearing evidence was presented of a 7-year-old who was handcuffed by a security guard and numerous other kids who tried to commit suicide by slashing their wrists, hanging themselves and drinking cleaning fluids.
The past year alone saw over 630 allegations of such abuse, neglect or exploitation that were substantiated, and 14,227 violations by the state of minimum standards of care.
Over the past six years, Judge Jack has repeatedly ruled that Texas is violating its most vulnerable children’s “constitutional right to be free from unreasonable risk of harm,” and the state — essentially refusing to do anything that might cost money and thus raise taxes on its richest citizens — has been found in contempt of court twice.
“Governors in the past, as well as this governor and legislators in the past, have done study after study after study and had come up with the same issues, the same exact issues,” Judge Jack said, adding, “I just want these children to be safe.”
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Texas’s unwillingness to spend tax money to properly care for its abused, exploited, and abandoned children is particularly troubling given the explosion of such kids coming in the next decade as Texas’ Pregnancy Vigilante law will force the birth of thousands of unwanted children every year.
While wealthy white women have no problem traveling out of state to get an abortion, poor women in Texas are now forced to carry accidental or rape-caused pregnancies to term.
Lacking resources to house, feed or educate their kids, and often not even old enough or emotionally mature enough to care for their children, this is the hell in which child abuse, trafficking and neglect explode.
Instead of raising taxes on their morbidly rich donors to care for the state’s own children, Texas Republicans are subjecting them to state-sanctioned abuse and neglect, sometimes just throwing up their hands and shipping them out of state: Texas kids have been recently transferred to Kansas, Colorado, Missouri, Arkansas and Florida.
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Abbott and other Texas Republicans know they can’t win elections in the state without the white evangelical vote and the #1 thing on the minds of evangelical voters since the Jerry Falwell era has been abortion. It’s not so important to them that they’re organizing programs to take in or care for unwanted children in any measurable way, but it’s definitely at the top of their sermons and moralizing.
So kids continue to sleep on office floors, get handcuffed to desks, and trafficked out of state while Abbott and his GOP buddies bask in the votes of “concerned” white evangelical voters. Who, given all their religiosity, you’d think would be upset about Abbott and the Texas government’s failure to care for its children.
After all, as the Gospel of Mark tells the story:
Then [Jesus] put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.”
But Abbott and the Texas GOP don’t give a rat’s ass about Jesus or His Father who sent Him. They just want very earthly white evangelical votes to keep them in power so the money and post-officeholding sweetheart gigs will continue to roll in from their wealthy donors.
Originally posted at The Hartmann Report
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