Gov. Greg Abbott claims the Biden administration has caused a ‘constitutional crisis’ after the U.S. Justice Department sued Texas to prevent troopers from stopping cars carrying migrants.
Abbott issued the statement after U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the Justice Department had filed a lawsuit over an executive order the governor signed on Wednesday.
The Executive Order GA-37 tasked the Texas Department of Public Safety with stopping any vehicle suspected of carrying migrants and reroute them to their origin or impound them, claiming that they pose a risk of spreading the COVID-19.
Abbott’s order came even after he ended many the Lone Star State’s protective measures amid the pandemic, even going so far as to prevent local governments from enforcing mask mandates and vaccine requirements.
‘The Biden Administration has created a constitutional crisis between the federal government and the State of Texas,’ Abbott said on Friday.
‘This stems from the Biden Administration’s refusal to enforce immigration laws and allow illegal immigrants with COVID-19 to enter our country.’
Gov. Greg Abbott claims the Biden administration has caused a ‘constitutional crisis’
Biden’s Justice Department sued Texas to prevent troopers from stopping cars carrying migrants
Abbott made the statement after AG Merrick Garland announced the DOJ filed a lawsuit over an executive order the governor signed Wednesday
Abbott said that Texas is being ‘overrun and overwhelmed’ by a record-high influx of migrants – and alleged that ‘cartels and smugglers profit off the chaos.’
‘Not only that, but this crisis also extends beyond the border as deadly drugs like fentanyl infiltrate our communities,’ Abbott said.
‘This already dangerous situation continues to deteriorate as the Biden Administration knowingly imports COVID-19 into Texas from across the border—willfully exposing Texans and Americans alike.’
He added: ‘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.’
Abbott claimed that he had to take action with his executive order as 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,’ Abbott said.
‘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.’
Earlier on Friday, Abbott sent a letter to Garland claiming that his lawsuit ‘conflicts with my authority, and duty, to protect citizens of Texas and the United States.’
‘Your actions, combined with the actions and omissions of the Biden Administration, directly conflict with my authority as Governor,’ Abbott wrote.
‘The Biden Administration is failing and refusing to enforce immigration laws by allowing migrants to unlawfully enter into the United States.’
Abbott’s statement is seen in full in a screenshot from his website
Earlier on Friday, Abbott sent a letter to Garland claiming that his lawsuit ‘conflicts with my authority, and duty, to protect citizens of Texas and the United States’
In the letter, Abbott admitted that the U.S. Constitution empowers the federal government – not states – to administer the immigration process.
‘However, the Constitution does not allow the Biden Administration to fabricate its own immigration laws,’ Abbott wrote, adding that the White House is limited to applying laws enacted by the U.S. Congress.
He continued: ‘Worse, the Biden Administration is knowingly admitting hundreds of thousands of unauthorized migrants, many of whom the federal government knows full well have COVID-19. ‘
‘To be clear, the Biden Administration is knowingly importing COVID-19 into Texas from across the border and knowingly exposing Texans and Americans to that disease,’ he wrote.
He alleged that the White House could take measures to avoid a ‘constitution showdown’ by preventing migrants from entering at the Texas-Mexico border.
The Justice Department filed the lawsuit in a federal court in El Paso – asking for an immediate block on Abbott’s order.
The lawsuit mirrors a letter that Garland sent the governor a day earlier, arguing that the state was usurping and even interfering with the federal government’s responsibility to enforce immigration laws.
The lawsuit escalates tensions between the Biden administration and Abbott, a Republican who is facing reelection next year.
For months, the two-term governor has sought to claim former President Donald Trump’s hardline mantle on immigration, inflaming passions on a polarizing issue.
Civil rights groups and immigration advocates have said Abbott’s move for troopers stop vehicles could invite racial profiling and restrict the ability of shelters to take in newly arriving families.
Declarations submitted with the lawsuit offered fresh evidence of large numbers of migrants showing up at the border with Mexico, with senior officials warning that the governor’s order could significantly impede transportation and other federal operations.
The Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley sector, the busiest corridor for illegal crossings, had more than 8,300 migrants in custody Wednesday, with an average processing time of 57 hours, said Brian Hastings, the sector chief.
The sector has released more than 100,000 migrants since October 1, including 9,000 in the last week.
The Homeland Security Department reported that 646 children traveling alone were taken into custody across the Mexico border on Thursday, compared with a daily average of 480 over the previous 30 days.
The executive order declared that ‘no governmental entity can compel any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine’ or compel people to provide proof of vaccination
The border fight is heating up after Abbott also signed an executive order on Thursday night preventing mask and COVID-19 vaccination mandates to promote ‘individual right and responsibility’ in the Lone Star State.
Abbott announced the executive order in a press release just hours after President Joe Biden called on states to do more to incentivize vaccination.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stepped up mask and vaccination recommendations this week amid the worrying surge of the Delta variant – which some doctors have called the ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated.’
‘Today’s executive order will provide clarity and uniformity in the Lone Star State’s continued fight against COVID-19,’ Abbott said.
‘The new Executive Order emphasizes that the path forward relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates.’
The Republican governor said that Texans ‘have mastered the safe practices’ that prevent the spread of COVID-19, even as the state reported 6,347 new cases on Thursday.
The Texas Health and Human Services data also shows 1,876 ‘possible cases’ on Thursday, with 39 new deaths attributed to COVID-19.
The data shows that the two largest demographics of deaths in Texas are white, 35 percent, and Hispanic – 36 percent. There have been a total of 2,628,438 confirmed cases in the Lone Star State and 51,984 deaths since the pandemic began.
‘They have the individual right and responsibility to decide for themselves and their children whether they will wear masks, open their businesses, and engage in leisure activities,’ Abbott said.
He added: ‘Vaccines, which remain in abundant supply, are the most effective defense against the virus, and they will always remain voluntary – never forced – in the State of Texas.’
The executive order declared that ‘no governmental entity can compel any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine administered under an emergency use authorization.’
It declared that state agencies could not require proof of vaccination, or so-called ‘vaccine passports,’ from people entering a place of business or receiving services.
Any public or private entity that receives state funds has also been ordered not to require proof of vaccination or deny people entry for not providing proof.
Abbott also banned companies, state and local agencies – including school districts – from requiring patrons to wear masks. He also prevented local governments and entities from imposing their own restrictions on masks within their jurisdictions.
Local governmental entities that impose directives that conflict with Abbott’s orders can face fines up to $1,000.
The orders stand in stark opposition to new CDC guidelines – effectively ordering all businesses, local governments and schools not to comply with federal recommendations.
The CDC said on Tuesday that anyone walking into a school should wear masks and that even vaccinated people should wear them again indoors in public spaces in regions ‘with substantial and high transmission.’
Substantial transmission areas are defined as having 50-99 new infections for every 100,000 people over a seven-day period – while high transmission areas have 100 or more new infections per 100,000.
More than 200 of the 254 counties in Texas are in such categories, the Texas Tribune noted.
The Texas State Teachers Association sent a letter to Abbott on Tuesday requesting he let local school districts set their own mask mandates.
‘Educators are eager to return to the classroom, but the pandemic is still dangerous,’ said Ovidia Molina, the association’s president.