Abbott's order allowing Texas troopers to stop migrant transports faces judge's injunction
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A federal judge in El Paso, Texas, on Thursday issued an injunction on Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order targeting the transport of illegal immigrants.
The injunction was handed down by District Judge Kathleen Cardone, who on Aug. 3 granted a request by the Justice Department for a temporary restraining order against Abbott’s move. The restraining order, which was set to expire Friday, was seen as an initial victory for the Biden administration.
In her ruling Thursday, Cardone wrote that Abbott’s order “seems to do little to protect public health despite its purported motivations.”
Cardone had noted the Justice Department was likely to prevail on its claim that the order violates the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause because it conflicts with federal immigration law and “directly regulates the federal government’s operations.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a news conference in Austin, Texas on June 8, 2021. (Associated Press)
“The United States seeks a preliminary injunction on the basis that the Order violates the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution and the related doctrine of intergovernmental immunity,” Cardone wrote Thursday. “The United States argues that Order creates an obstacle to the enforcement of federal immigration law because it impermissibly requires state agents to make federal immigration determinations and disrupts the federal government’s ability to transport noncitizens.”
“The Order seems to do little to protect public health despite its purported motivations,” she added. “Texas presents no evidence that noncitizens entering the United States at the border pose a particular health risk such that restricting their transportation would improve health and safety.”
Abbott’s order, issued July 28, had authorized Texas’ growing presence of state troopers along the border to “stop any vehicle upon reasonable suspicion” of transporting illegal immigrants. Troopers could then reroute vehicles back to their point of origin or impound them.
It also banned the transportation of migrants within Texas by anyone other than law enforcement, according to reports.
The governor defended his order as necessary in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in his state, while civil rights groups and immigration advocates expressed concerns that troopers could invite racial profiling.
“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 said. “This Executive Order will reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure in our communities.”
Last month, the Justice Department sued Abbott and Texas, saying his order interferes with the federal government’s ability to deal with immigration. It followed U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland’s threat of legal action after the governor’s order.
Cardone said the preliminary injunction will be in place until the case is resolved “on the merits.”
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