WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice sued the state of Texas and Gov. Greg Abbott Friday for an executive order that restricts people and groups outside the government from transporting migrants.
“No State may obstruct the Federal Government in the discharge of its constitutional responsibilities,” the DOJ wrote in its complaint.
“But on July 28, 2021, the Governor of the State of Texas issued an executive order purporting—’effective immediately’—to restrict who may lawfully provide ground transportation in Texas to certain groups of migrants who have been detained by the Federal Government pursuant to U.S. immigration authorities or are otherwise subject to certain Federal authorities.”
The lawsuit goes on to say that Abbott’s executive order “obstructs the Federal Government’s arrangements with nongovernmental partners and directly interferes with the administration of federal immigration law.”
Abbott issued an executive order Wednesday that said “no person, other than a federal, state, or local law-enforcement official, shall provide ground transportation to a group of migrants who have been detained by CBP” or Customs and Border Protection.
The order also directed the Texas Department of Public Safety to stop any vehicle that they believe could be transporting migrants.
On Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland in a letter called on Abbott to “rescind” the order. If he didn’t, Garland said, he “intends to pursue all appropriate legal remedies to ensure that Texas does not interfere with the functions of the federal government.”
Abbott issued a statement in response to the lawsuit Friday eveningsaying that his actions were within his authority as governor.
"As the Governor of Texas, I have a responsibility to protect the people of Texas—a responsibility that grows more urgent by the day while the Biden Administration sits on the sidelines," Abbott said. "...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.”
The Biden Administration has been working with local nonprofits and other contractors along the border who are assisting with migrants coming to the United States. Abbott’s order would cause issues for the non-profits and contractors who at times transport migrants to or from their facilities.
There has been a dramatic increase of migrant children, families and adults coming to the U.S.-Mexico border this year. CBP encountered a yearly high of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border in June, with 188,829 migrants encountered. Many of the encounters are happening along the border in Texas, with the Rio Grande Valley area seeing the largest numbers of encounters.
The Biden Administration has turned away the majority of migrants coming to the border due to a policy called Title 42, which allows CBP officials to expel undocumented migrants to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in holding facilities. Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security reinstated a policy that allows immigration authorities to remove migrant families without a hearing. The first flights deporting certain families began Friday.
Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: DOJ sues Texas, Abbott for restricting transportation of migrants