A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily halted an executive order issued by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to prohibit private individuals and groups from transporting immigrants who illegally crossed the U.S.-Mexico border.
District Judge Kathleen Cardone in a two-page order blocked the order from being implemented by state officials until at least Aug. 13, when she is set to hold a court hearing on the matter.
“The Executive Order causes irreparable injury to the United States and to individuals the United States is charged with protecting, jeopardizing the health and safety of non-citizens in federal custody, risking the safety of federal law enforcement personnel and their families, and exacerbating the spread of COVID-19,” Cardone, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote.
Abbott’s executive order, which is aimed at restricting the ground transportation of illegal aliens detained by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents who may pose a risk of transmitting COVID-19, cites a surge in CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus infections in Texas as the reason for the restriction.
“The dramatic rise in unlawful border crossings has also led to a dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases among unlawful migrants who have made their way into our state, and we must do more to protect Texans from this virus and reduce the burden on our communities,” Abbott, a Republican, said in a statement in issuing his order last week.
“This executive order will reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure in our communities,” he said.
The order prohibits anyone other than a federal, state, or local official from transporting migrants detained by CBP for crossing the border illegally, who are subject to expulsion under the federal Title 42 order.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a federal lawsuit against the Lone Star state and Abbott on Friday, asking the judge for emergency temporary restraining order against Texas officials from enforcing the order.
“No State may obstruct the Federal Government in the discharge of its constitutional responsibilities,” the DOJ complaint said.
“The executive order violates the Supremacy Clause and causes injury to the United States and to individuals whom the United States is charged to protect, jeopardizing the health and safety of noncitizens in federal custody, risking the safety of federal law enforcement personnel and their families, and exacerbating the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.
“The executive order obstructs the Federal Government’s arrangements with nongovernmental partners and directly interferes with the administration of federal immigration law. This Court should declare the executive order to be invalid and enjoin its enforcement.”
A day earlier, Attorney General Merrick Garland had warned Abbott in a letter to “immediately rescind” his new executive order, claiming that it “violates federal law in numerous respects.”
Garland warned that the DOJ will “pursue all appropriate legal remedies” if the state refuses to rescind Executive Order GA-37, which he described as “both dangerous and unlawful.”
In a statement responding to the suit, the Texas governor asserted his authority under the law to “protect the people 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,” he said. “My duty remains to the people of Texas, and I have no intention of abdicating that.”
CBP agents are apprehending an average of 6,300 illegal immigrants daily along the southern border. Texas is home to the busiest border sector for illegal crossings. Border Patrol agents detained 20,000 illegal immigrants in one week in late July in the Rio Grande Valley sector.
Abbott’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment by The Epoch Times.