Federal court in El Paso blocks Abbott's migrant transportation order

The ACLU and its Texas chapter says that a federal court in El Paso has blocked Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order restricting the ground transportation of migrants due to COVID-19.

Abbott issued GA-37 in July directing the Texas Department of Public Safety to stop any vehicle upon reasonable suspicion of such violation and reroute those vehicles back to their point of origin or a port of entry.

According to the ruling, Abbott's order violates the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution because it authorizes DPS to "make and act upon immigration determinations, the province of federal law." 

Also, the ruling says that while Texas and Abbott do have "broad authority to prevent and limit the spread of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2," they have presented "no evidence" that this order "will be effective to achieve this goal."

The ACLU says it filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Annunciation House, one of the largest shelter providers on the U.S.-Mexico border, based in El Paso; Angry Tías & Abuelas of the Rio Grande Valley, a volunteer organization that aids migrants; Jennifer Harbury, a humanitarian volunteer who frequently drives migrants; and FIEL Houston, an immigrants’ rights organization with members who include recently arrived migrants subject to restrictions on travel due to the executive order.

A separate challenge was brought by the U.S. Department of Justice just days after Abbott announced the order. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland previously said it violates federal law and that the U.S. Justice Department would take action if Abbott did not undo it.

In their lawsuit, the DOJ argued the Texas executive order "causes injury to the United States and to individuals whom the United States is charged to protect, jeopardizing the health and safety of noncitizens in federal custody, risking the safety of federal law enforcement personnel and their families, and exacerbating the spread of Covid-19 in our communities."

The ACLU says that the two cases have now been consolidated for pretrial purposes.

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