Bethany Blankley | The Center Square
A legal battle and war of words between Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the federal government over COVID-positive migrants being released into Texas communities escalated over the weekend.
The U.S. Department of Justice sued the state of Texas Friday over an executive order Abbott issued restricting the transport of infected immigrants who entered the country illegally being released into the general population.
“The Biden Administration is knowingly admitting hundreds of thousands of unauthorized migrants, many of whom the federal government knows full well have COVID-19,” Abbott said in response to the lawsuit.
“While the Biden Administration is openly pondering looming shutdowns and mandates on U.S. citizens to control the spread of COVID-19, at the same time the Administration is knowingly worsening the problem by importing COVID-19 at extreme rates,” the governor said.
The lawsuit was filed by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland a day after he sent a letter to Abbott threatening to take legal action if the Texas governor didn’t rescind his “dangerous and unlawful” order.
But Abbott replied, “The Biden Administration has created a constitutional crisis between the federal government and the State of Texas. This stems from the Biden Administration’s refusal to enforce immigration laws and allow illegal immigrants with COVID-19 to enter our country. President Biden has a duty and a responsibility to protect and uphold our nation’s sovereignty, yet he has long-since abdicated his authority to do so.
“As the Governor of Texas, I have a responsibility to protect the people of Texas – a responsibility that grows more urgent by the day while the Biden Administration sits on the sidelines. I have the authority, and duty, under the constitutions of the United States and of Texas to protect Texans and our nation. I also have the authority under long-established emergency response laws to control the movement of people to better contain the spread of a disaster, such as those known to have COVID-19. My duty remains to the people of Texas, and I have no intention of abdicating that.”
He also said the Biden administration should “stop admitting migrants who are not authorized by Congress to be admitted. That would substantially reduce the importation of COVID-19 while also fulfilling the federal government’s role to faithfully execute the laws of the United States.”
Merrick is now asking a federal judge to block Abbott’s order, arguing, “In our constitutional system, a State has no right to regulate the federal government’s operations,” adding “this restriction on the transportation of noncitizens would severely disrupt federal immigration operations.”
“It is clear that the Biden Administration fundamentally misunderstands what is truly happening at the Texas-Mexico border,” Abbott said in response. “It would be of some solace if the federal government were conducting appropriate COVID-19 testing and other mitigation strategies, but to the contrary, we hear too many reports of the federal government recklessly failing to do so and instead admitting into the United States – and Texas – migrants from over 150 countries, many of whom are testing positive for COVID-19.
“In short, the Biden Administration is jeopardizing the health and safety of Texans on a daily basis by refusing to follow the law. And it’s not just Texans; these irresponsible policies and actions by the Biden Administration are endangering the lives of many Americans as well as the unlawful immigrants themselves.”
The lawsuit was filed after bipartisan members of Congress called on Biden to halt the administration’s open border policies, led by Texas Democratic U.S. Rep. Henry Cueller, whose district includes border communities. It also comes after the border city of Laredo sued the Biden administration in July, hoping to halt its policy of transferring several hundred people a day into the city who have illegally entered the U.S. through the two Texas Border Patrol sectors, Rio Grande Valley and Del Rio.