Gov. Greg Abbott blasted for ‘cruel’ claim he wants to deny public education to undocumented kids | Texas News | San Antonio

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Gov. Greg Abbott puts on his game face and a faux-military shirt for a photo op along the US-Mexico border.

Educators and civil-rights advocates are blasting Gov. Greg Abbott’s suggestion that Texas will sue to overturn the federal requirement that states provide public education to all children, including undocumented ones.

During a Wednesday appearance on San Antonio-based conservative radio program The Joe Pags Show, the Republican governor said Texas may challenge the Supreme Court’s landmark Plyler v. Doe Supreme Court decision, which prevents states from withholding public education. The 1982 case struck down a Texas law that withheld state funding for the education of non-citizens.

Abbott’s threat appears to be prompted by this week’s leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that would nullify Roe v. Wade if it takes effect – something many read as a signal the conservative-dominated court could reverse other legal precedents. The governor’s pronouncement also comes as he stakes out increasingly extreme positions on immigration as he looks to win a third term in this year’s election cycle.

“The governor is showing us that the cruelty in his heart knows no depths. We’ve never before seen such division and callousness in Texas politics,” Zeph Capo, president of the Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, said in a statement .

“Just a few years ago, we were proud to stand with Gov. Rick Perry as our state passed the Texas Dream Act, showing Texas had both compassion for children and the smarts to understand the positive outcomes doing so would have on our economy. Today we stand against Abbott’s political posturing that would strip education away from our kids. “

Capo also warned that booting undocumented children out of public schools would result in campuses profiling students along racial lines to check their immigration status.

“If the governor succeeds, he would be disrupting thousands of Texas school campuses, thrusting them into a world where spiteful adults target children with questions about their legal status,” Capo said. “Students would face speculation over the color of their skin or their accent, even if they are legal residents.”

Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, told the New York Times he considers Abbott’s threat an appeal to racist voters.

“I do not consider this a new front,” Saenz said. “I consider his comments to be a desperate dog whistle to bolster his re-election prospects.”

In a tweet, Texas State Rep. Erin Zwiener, D-Driftwood, took aim at Abbott’s claim that ejecting undocumented kids from the education system would ease the state’s financial burden, calling it “deplorable” and a “new low.”

“If he wants to address undue financial burdens on the state, he should start with his own failed border operation,” Zwiener added.

Last week, Abbott said he will funnel another $ 495.3 million into state funds into Operation Lone Star, his border security crackdown that detractors have labeled an expensive election-year publicity stunt.

The program, which has deployed 10,000 Texas National Guard troops to the border, is costing the state $ 2 billion annually, the Texas Tribune reports. Multiple media investigations have highlighted overblown claims by Abbott and other state officials about the effectiveness of the initiative.

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