A federal judge temporarily blocked Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order to prevent individuals and private businesses from transporting undocumented immigrants who were released by the Border Patrol after crossing the border into Mexico illegally.
District Judge Kathleen Cardone ruled in favor of the Justice Department, which sued the Texas government on Friday arguing that it was usurping powers vested in the federation. On Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland criticized Abbot’s order in an open letter to the public, asking him to immediately withdraw it: “The order is dangerous and illegal”, wrote.
The Republican governor’s measure allowed the Texas Department of Public Safety to stop any vehicle suspected of transporting immigrants who had crossed the border irregularly, alleging that in this way it sought to combat the spread of the infectious delta variant of the coronavirus.
Abbot has taken a series of actions at the border to curb the arrival of undocumented immigrants.
In early June he declared a state of emergency in the border counties due to the increase in irregular crossings and a week later announced that it would build a wall on the border and begin imposing prison sentences on immigrants. A month later, the Texas authorities began to imprison the first migrants who crossed the border irregularly, accusing them of trespassing when they passed through private property.
Judge Cardone determined that the measure would be invalid while the case is being studied in the courts, because “most likely” the argument of the Department of Justice that it usurps the powers of the federal government would prevail.
Abbott’s controversial ordinance came days after an incident with a migrant family infected with COVID-19 that was seen in a restaurant in La Joya, Hidalgo County, sneezing and no mask. They had stayed at a hotel rented by Catholic Charities in McAllen so they could be isolated along with 30 other families after the Border Patrol released them from custody.
The family evaded the security of the hotel and went out to buy some food at a fast food establishment. The news caused panic among residents and Judge Richard Cortez asked the federal government in a letter to stop “releasing infected migrants into our community.”
Concern over reports of possible coronavirus infections among immigrants that Border Protection and Customs (CBP) releases into communities also led a judge in Webb County last month to bar federal authorities from bringing them. people detained in other counties, claiming that up to 40% could have contracted the virus.
CBP officials are currently partnering with nongovernmental organizations to test immigrants for COVID-19 they release from custody. Then, if they test positive, they are sent to shelters or hotels that these organizations rent with funds from the Disaster Management Agency so that they can remain isolated for two weeks, after which they are allowed to continue their trip to other cities in the country.