TEXAS – A federal court judge in El Paso issued a temporary restraining order on Tuesday, preventing state troopers from enforcing Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order that restricts the travel of certain migrants.
The judge’s order is in effect until Aug. 13, when a hearing on the issue will take place.
Abbott’s order was issued July 28 and states, “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 for crossing the border illegally.”
The order further instructs state troopers to stop, as well as potentially reroute or impound, any vehicles suspected of transporting immigrants released from Customs and Border Protection’s custody after being caught crossing the border illegally.
Abbott stated he issued the order to help prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
The US Department of Justice sued Texas over the order, asking for either a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction. The federal lawsuit argues Abbott’s order interferes with federal operations and violates several federal laws. The lawsuit followed a letter from U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, who asked Texas to rescind the order.
Prior to the judge’s temporary restraining order, DPS director Steve McCraw submitted an affidavit to the court stating he was still working to establish procedures for his troopers to follow when enforcing the order. McCraw estimated it would take a week to establish those procedures and his troopers would not enforce the order until this process was complete.
The city of Laredo recently sued the government over the release of migrants to shelter in the city and Hidalgo county judge Richard Cortez issued a disaster declaration over the release of migrants in the community. In a news release, Cortez stated county and non-profits are overwhelmed by “asylum seekers” and COVID hospitalizations are spiking. Cortez said non-profits and the city of McAllen can no longer “adequately feed, house, provide medical attention to or otherwise accommodate” migrants released in the county.
More than 1 million immigrants have been apprehended after crossing the border illegally since Oct 1, according to CBP data. Apprehension numbers have not been this high since 2006.
Abbott released the following statement after the federal judge’s decision:
“The Court’s recent order is temporary and based on limited evidence. We look forward to providing the Court with the evidence to support the Governor’s Executive Order to protect Texans. The Biden Administration has knowingly—and willfully—released COVID-19 positive migrants into Texas communities, risking the potential exposure and infection of Texas residents. The Governor’s Executive Order attempts to prevent the Biden Administration from spreading COVID-19 into Texas and protect the health and safety of Texans.”