The State of Texas and the federal Department of Justice are headed to federal court over a bright line drawn by Republican Governor Greg Abbott on illegal immigration in the state. The Governor referred to the situation as a “constitutional crisis.”
The rapidly developing conflict revolves around an executive order signed by Gov. Abbott on July 28 that is designed to restrict the transportation of migrants inside of Texas.
The order is directed at illegal immigrants who create an enhanced risk of COVID-19 transmission inside the state. It authorizes the Texas Department of Public Safety to stop vehicles suspected of carrying potentially contagious illegal immigrants before sending the car and its passengers back to a U.S. port of entry. The order also provides for forfeiture of suspected vehicles that do not comply with orders to reroute.
The order also prohibits any person other than a law enforcement officer from transporting illegal immigrants who the U.S. Border Patrol has detained to any point inside Texas.
On July 29, U.S. attorney general Merrick Garland wrote to Abbott to threaten legal action against Texas if the Governor did not immediately rescind the “dangerous and unlawful” order. Abbott wrote back to Garland, stating that being told: “to protect noncitizens directly conflicts with my authority, and duty, to protect citizens of Texas and the United States.”
On July 30, the United States filed a complaint in federal court in El Paso against Texas and the Governor. The complaint seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction to prevent the executive order from being carried out. The court is anticipated to schedule a hearing on the initial injunction request soon.
Abbott issued a statement in response to the lawsuit stating in part:
“As the Governor of Texas, I have a responsibility to protect the people of Texas, a responsibility that grows more urgent by the day while the Biden Administration sits on the sidelines. I take very seriously my duties and responsibilities as the Governor of the State of Texas. I have the authority and duty, under the constitutions of the United States and of Texas, to protect Texans and our nation. I also have the authority under long-established emergency response laws to control the movement of people to better contain the spread of a disaster, such as those known to have COVID-19. My duty remains to the people of Texas, and I have no intention of abdicating that.
Until President Biden and his Administration do their jobs to enforce the laws of our nation and protect Americans, the State of Texas will continue to step up to protect our communities and uphold the rule of law.”
Meanwhile, news reports continue of busloads of illegal immigrants being dropped off at locations throughout the interior of Texas.