Attorney General Merrick Garland threatened Texas with legal action Thursday, following an executive order from Governor Greg Abbott banning the ground transportation of migrants who may be carriers of COVID-19.
Abbott’s order came amid reports that federal authorities were dropping COVID-positive migrants in towns on the Texas border.
Garland told Abbott to “immediately rescind” the executive order which he called “both dangerous and illegal.”
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“The Executive Order violates federal law in many ways, and Texas cannot legally enforce the Executive Order against any federal official or private party working with the United States,” Garland wrote in a letter to Abbott.
The executive order issued by Abbott on Wednesday restricted ground transportation for migrants “who pose a risk of carrying COVID-19 to communities in Texas.”
Abbott has ordered the Texas Department of Public Safety to stop any vehicle reasonably suspected of having violated its order.
“The dramatic increase in illegal border crossings has also led to a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases among illegal migrants who have entered our state, and we must do more to protect Texans from this virus and reduce the burden of our communities, ”Abbott said in his order on Wednesday. “This decree will reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in our communities. “
Abbott argued his order was necessary to counter the increase in illegal immigration under the Biden administration.
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But Garland said the order not only interferes with federal laws, but “endangers the health and safety of non-citizens in federal custody.”
The attorney general warned Abbott that if he does not overturn the executive order, Garland “intends to exercise all appropriate legal remedies” to ensure Texas does not interfere with federal regulations.
The governor of Texas has clashed with the Biden administration over immigration issues since the president took office in January.
Abbott has repeatedly called on the president to tackle the southern border immigration crisis more urgently to stem the record number of illegal migrant crossings.
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US Customs and Border Protection have reported more than 900,000 encounters with illegal migrants since January.
The governor said last month that he intends to build a border wall without the support of the federal government.
Fox News could not immediately reach Abbott for comment.