Attorney General Merrick Garland urged Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to withdraw the “dangerous and unlawful” executive order he instituted on Wednesday aimed at restricting the transport of illegal migrants in Texas who may have COVID-19.
Garland said Abbott’s order, which provides that “no person, other than a federal, state, or local law-enforcement official, shall provide ground transportation to a group of migrants,” cannot be lawfully enforced. He threatened to take legal action against Texas if the Republican governor doesn’t withdraw the order.
“The order would jeopardize the health and safety of noncitizens in federal government custody, federal law enforcement personnel and their families, and our communities,” Garland told Abbott in a letter Thursday, also saying Texas can’t enforce the order against federal officials or private organizations working with the federal government.
Garland cited the Constitution’s supremacy clause, saying, “A state may not interfere with or obstruct these federal officials in the performance of their duties.”
Abbott’s Wednesday order followed news of COVID-positive migrants being dropped off by Homeland Security Department officials in the border towns of La Joya and McAllen pending their U.S. immigration court proceedings.
“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 in a statement Wednesday. “This Executive Order will reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure in our communities.”