Abbott, a Republican, said that the executive order he issued on July 28 is intended to “reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure” in Texas communities, amid an increase in CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus infections in the Lone Star State, including among illegal aliens.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland asked Abbott to rescind the executive order and had threatened to file a lawsuit on July 29.
The DOJ filed its complaint with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in El Paso on July 30.
“No State may obstruct the Federal Government in the discharge of its constitutional responsibilities,” the DOJ complaint reads.
“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.”
Abbott’s order states that no person other than a federal, state, or local law enforcement official can give ground transportation to illegal aliens who have been detained by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents. It also grants the state’s Department of Public Safety the authority to stop and send back any vehicle suspected of carrying illegal aliens.
The government regularly employs contractors and other non-law enforcement personnel to transfer migrants, Reuters reported.
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.”
Abbott has accused the Biden administration of having created a “constitutional crisis between the federal government and the State of Texas” because it has been refusing to enforce immigration laws. He alleges that the Biden administration “knowingly imports COVID-19 into Texas from across the border—willfully exposing Texans and Americans alike.”
“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,” Abbott said.
Representatives for the Biden administration didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.
Texas has the busiest border sector for illegal border crossings, with more than 20,000 illegal aliens detained by CBP agents in South Texas’s Rio Grande Valley in just one week in late July.
Busloads of illegal aliens from the Rio Grande Valley are being sent to the city of Laredo, where officials are suing the Biden administration over the immigrant influx.
CBP agents in Texas recently arrested a record-breaking 298 illegal aliens in La Grulla, including one who was “exhibiting COVID-19 related symptoms” and later tested positive for the disease at a hospital, according to a CBP statement.
Charlotte Cuthbertson contributed to this report.