A federal judge on Tuesday blocked Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s order for state troopers to block vehicles carrying migrants in the state, The Associated Press reports.
Abbott last week ordered state troopers to pull over vehicles transporting migrants, arguing that it was necessary to prevent the spread of Covid. Abbott said in a statement that the order will “reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure in our communities," even though he has banned local government officials from requiring masks in defiance of CDC guidelines.
The order quickly came under fire from legal experts and civil liberties groups.
“That’s unheard of and it's blatantly unconstitutional,” Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, an analyst with the American Immigration Council, told the Texas Tribune. “This threatens and disrupts months of coordination.”
Abbott’s order “continues a long, racist history of placing blame for the spread of disease onto immigrants and communities at the border,” said ACLU attorney Kate Huddleston. “There is no reason for the governor to halt travel in the state of Texas other than to terrorize these communities and distract from his own leadership failures.”
US District Judge Kathleen Cardone on Tuesday issued a temporary order blocking the directive in response to a lawsuit from the Justice Department.
The DOJ accused Abbott of possibly worsening Covid-19 spread in the state because it would force unaccompanied children to remain in “increasingly crowded” facilities.
Cardone in her order agreed that the directive would have the effect of “exacerbating the spread of COVID-19.”
Cardone scheduled another hearing for next week. She said in her order that the DOJ was likely correct in its argument that the move violates the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause because it conflicts with federal immigration law and "directly regulates the federal government's operations."
Abbott presses forward:
"The Court's recent order is temporary and based on limited evidence," Abbott said in a statement. "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," he added, "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."