Amid reports that the Biden administration was transporting and releasing illegal immigrants — some of whom are COVID-19 positive — to local shelters and hotels, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) took executive action to counter such actions.
That decision has now resulted in U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland’s Justice Department (DOJ) filing a federal lawsuit seeking to block Abbott’s executive order from enforcement, the New York Post reported.
Abbott’s executive order
At issue were reports last week that federal border and immigration officials were releasing some detained illegal migrants into the country, including some who’d tested positive or displayed symptoms of COVID-19, and were even transporting them to hotels or shelters managed by non-governmental organizations or federal contractors.
In response, Gov. Abbott issued Executive Order GA-37 that authorized Texas Department of Public Safety troopers to halt and reroute the ground transportation of suspected illegal migrants who may be infected with the virus if they were being transported by anybody other than federal officials or law enforcement personnel.
Garland was none too pleased by Abbott’s action and immediately sent a letter urging the governor to rescind his order on the basis that it interfered with federal enforcement of immigration laws and placed both migrants and federal officials at greater risk from the virus. He further vowed to “pursue all appropriate legal remedies” if Abbott failed to do so.
Letters and lawsuits
But Gov. Abbott would not be dissuaded, and defiantly fired off a statement and letter of his own making it clear that his order would not be rescinded and would, in fact, be enforced in the absence of appropriate federal enforcement of border security and immigration laws.
According to USA Today, AG Garland’s DOJ proceeded to file its federal lawsuit against Texas on Friday, writing in the complaint, “No State may obstruct the Federal Government in the discharge of its constitutional responsibilities.”
The lawsuit further asserted that Abbott’s order “obstructs the Federal Government’s arrangements with nongovernmental partners and directly interferes with the administration of federal immigration law.”
Abbot’s not scared
Gov. Abbott, however, made clear in a response statement that he was not intimidated, and instead believed he had the authority to do what was necessary to protect the people of Texas.
“The Biden Administration has created a constitutional crisis between the federal government and the State of Texas. This stems from the Biden Administration’s refusal to enforce immigration laws and allow illegal immigrants with COVID-19 to enter our country,” Abbott wrote, noting that President Joe Biden’s lax enforcement of the border had resulted in a surge of illegal migrants, crime, and drugs in Texas communities.
“This already dangerous situation continues to deteriorate as the Biden Administration knowingly imports COVID-19 into Texas from across the border — willfully exposing Texans and Americans alike,” the governor continued. “President Biden has a duty and a responsibility to protect and uphold our nation’s sovereignty, yet he has long-since abdicated his authority to do so.”
Citing his authority, duty, and responsibility to protect the people of Texas and the U.S. as a whole, which he had “no intention of abdicating,” Abbott concluded, “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.”