Attorney General Merrick Garland reprimands the Texas governor for his executive order that seeks to hinder transportation for migrants and threatens to file a lawsuit if he does not terminate the order.
“I urge you to immediately rescind Executive Order GA 37, entitled Relating To the transportation of migrants during the COVID-19 disaster,” Garland wrote in a letter on Thursday, July 29, to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Tex.), branding the order “both dangerous and unlawful.”
On Wednesday, citing the risks of COVID-19 transmission, Abbott signed an executive order that would prohibit nonprofits and other private transportation providers from providing ground transportation for many migrants.
The order allows the Texas Department of Public Safety to stop any vehicle it suspects carries migrants who “pose a risk of carrying COVID-19 into Texas communities” and send the vehicle back to where it came.
Garland’s letter to Abbott said the order would make it harder for migrants to present at their immigration hearings, stymie federal government efforts to transfer them to COVID-19 test centers, and “exacerbate and prolong overcrowding in facilities and shelters.”
Garland argued that “because federal law requires individuals processed for release to appear before immigration courts or report to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices throughout the country, the Order directly interferes with the implementation of federal immigration law.”
The order also confines the authority to summon transportation for apprehended illegal border crossers and people subject to expulsion under “the Title 42 order” back to federal, state, or local law enforcement officials only.”
Garland said Texas does not have the right to regulate private services working with the United States, nor can it interfere with federal officials who have “broad, undoubted power over the subject of immigration.”
Wrapping up his message, Garland reiterated his demand that Abbott must “ immediately rescind the Order” or he would proceed on with a lawsuit “to ensure that Texas does not interfere with the functions of the federal government.”
Responding to the threats, Abbott vowed that he would resist any actions by the Justice Department.
“(T)he Biden Administration is jeopardizing the health and safety of Texans on a daily basis by refusing to follow the law,” Abbott said in a statement, according to CNN.
“And it’s not just Texans; these irresponsible policies and actions by the Biden Administration are endangering the lives of many Americans as well as the unlawful immigrants themselves. I will take every available step consistent with the law to fulfill my duty to protect the health and safety of all Texans.”
Abbott has been a staunch critic of President Biden’s border policies. Throughout the months of dealing with the massive influx of foreign asylum seekers at the border in his state, the governor constantly exposed the rise in drug and human trafficking.
Abbott has occasionally promised that he would have his own unilateral measures to tackle the border situations. The Lone Star State has begun building its border fence along the southern border. Hundreds of National Guard troops have been assigned to assist border patrol agents with enforcing security.
According to the most recent Custom Border Patrol and Protection data, the U.S. Border Patrol captured 178,416 migrants at the U.S.–Mexico border in June alone, including some repeat offenders.
After months of procrastination, CNN said officials had finally decided to scrap plans to discontinue a Trump-era border policy connected to the pandemic at the end of this month. However, the outlet added that the Biden administration this week had unveiled intentions to hasten deportations for some migrant families who cross the border between the United States and Mexico.