U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland is threatening to sue the state of Texas over Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s recent order prohibiting the use of ground transportation for migrants and the ability to stop vehicles if they are suspected of transporting migrants.
Abbott’s order instructed law enforcement personnel to stop any vehicle suspected of transporting migrants who entered the U.S. illegally. AG Garland called the ruling “dangerous and unlawful” and said it was a risk to public health.
The order makes it illegal to provide ground transportation to migrants who have been held by immigration officials for entering the country illegally or who may be eligible for expulsion from the country under the current border policies.
Any vehicle with a “reasonable suspicion” of transporting illegal migrants can be stopped and the vehicle impounded under the order.
Abbott also cited the coronavirus pandemic and the potential for spreading the virus in Texas, which does not have any mask mandates, as a basis for the order.
The order is aimed at organizations, specifically non-governmental, that frequently transport migrants from Customs and Border Protection stations to shelters or other housing facilities.
Greyhound buses are also included in the directive, as migrants often use the buses to travel after their release from federal custody.
Legality of the order
AG Garland sent Gov. Abbott a letter that argues that the directive is illegal because it interferes with federal election law, which the federal government has authority over.
Garland says Abbott’s order would “jeopardize the health and safety” of federal immigration personnel, migrants, and entire communities.
“Among other harms, the Order would exacerbate and prolong overcrowding in facilities and shelters and obstruct the federal government’s arrangements with state, local, and non-governmental partners to ensure that released individuals are transported for appropriate COVID-19 testing to address public health concerns,” AG Garland emphasized in the letter.
Garland made it clear in the letter that if Gov. Abbott does not rescind the order, the Justice Department “intends to pursue all appropriate legal remedies to ensure that Texas does not interfere with the functions of the federal government.”
Governor Abbott has put a series of immigration measures in place in recent months, setting up a stand-off between the Biden administration and the state of Texas.
The order sparked praise as well as outrage. Experts have also weighed in, saying that the directive is probably illegal and will more than likely lead to more legal wrangling.