The Biden administration has filed a lawsuit against the State of Texas, after Gov. Greg Abbott released an executive order earlier this week prohibiting private companies and nonprofits from transporting illegal aliens from the southern border into other parts of the state.
Issued on Wednesday, Abbott’s executive order also directs the Texas Department of Public Safety to stop any vehicle upon reasonable suspicion of such violation and reroute such vehicles back to their point of origin or a port of entry. DPS also has the authority to impound a vehicle that violates the order.
Abbott largely pitched his executive order as way to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“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,” said Abbott.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland fired back on Thursday, urging Abbott to repeal the order and threatening legal action.
In response, Abbott sent a letter to Garland, doubling down.
“The Biden Administration is knowingly admitting hundreds of thousands of unauthorized migrants, many of whom the federal government knows full well have COVID-19,” said Abbott.
Just moments after Abbott’s letter was released, a lawsuit was filed by the Department of Justice in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in El Paso, which alleges that the move is an unconstitutional overstep of federal authority over immigration.
Abbott responded to the lawsuit by saying the Biden administration was creating a “constitutional crisis between the federal government and the state of Texas.”
The new battle with the federal government is the latest in a recent pivot towards border security from Abbott, who has ramped up his rhetoric on the issue in recent weeks after being pressed on the issue by 2022 Republican primary challengers.