Texas showdown: AG Garland threatens Abbott over migrant order; governor vows to fight for US citizens

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Thursday that the Biden administration “has directly caused the unprecedented [immigration] crisis Texas is facing” following Attorney General Merrick Garland’s threat of legal action over a new order implemented by Abbott that would allow state troopers to stop and re-route vehicles suspected of carrying illegal immigrants.

Garland urged Abbott to “immediately rescind” the order saying: “The Order would jeopardize the health and safety of noncitizens in federal government custody, federal law enforcement personnel and their families, and our communities.”

“Additionally, because federal law requires individuals processed for release to appear before immigration courts or report to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices throughout the country the Order directly interferes with the implementation of federal immigration law,” Garland claimed in his letter.

The AG claimed that the order “violates federal law in numerous respects,” that it is “unconstitutional” and that “Texas has no authority to interfere with the United States’ broad, undoubted power over the subject of immigration.”

If Abbott refuses to comply, Garland threatened “to pursue all appropriate legal remedies.”

“It is clear that the Biden Administration fundamentally misunderstands what is truly happening at the Texas-Mexico border,” Abbott fired back in a statement responding to AG Garland’s threat.

“The current crisis at our southern border, including the overcrowding of immigration facilities and the devastating spread of COVID-19 that the influx of non-citizens is causing, is entirely the creation of the Biden Administration and its failed immigration policies. By choosing not to enforce immigration laws…this Administration has directly caused the unprecedented crisis Texas is facing. And it is increasingly a matter of grave public-health concern as unlawful migrants enter from countries with lower vaccination rates than the United States,” Abbott added.

The governor contended that it would be one thing if “the federal government were conducting appropriate COVID-19 testing and other mitigation strategies,” but argued, “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.”

Abbott accused the administration of “jeopardizing the health and safety of Texans on a daily basis by refusing to follow the law.” The problem doesn’t stop in Texas, however, and Abbott acknowledges that the inaction by the Biden administration is endangering the lives of many Americans as well as the unlawful immigrants themselves.

Critics of Abbott’s order claim it opens the door for racial profiling by law enforcement.

“This is clear-cut militarization of Texas against individuals, children, and families by an out-of-control governor who thinks he has unilateral power to do whatever he wants and violate the civil rights of people based solely on appearance or suspicion. Racial profiling on steroids is a dangerous and unprecedented act that blatantly crosses the line and should concern all persons who value their freedom,” League of United Latin American Citizens President Domingo Garcia said in a statement.

The total number of migrants encountered in fiscal year 2021 reached more than one million and Customs and Border Protection recently reported more than 188,000 encounters in June alone. Since the fiscal year that began in October 2020, Customs and Border Patrol has recorded 597,000 apprehensions, with more than half being in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. That is the highest number of apprehensions since 2019, which saw a record of 444,000, previously the most since the 90’s according to the Wall Street Journal. 

The Biden administration seems to have no desire to exact its “broad, undoubted power” over immigration. In fact, President Biden and his border czar and Vice President Kamala Harris have done worse than ignore calls for aid from suffering border communities; they’ve enacted policies to further entice migrants to come here illegally including the promise of free college, free healthcare, and as of late, amnesty as requested in the budget reconciliation package.

“I will take every available step consistent with the law to fulfill my duty to protect the health and safety of all Texans,” Abbott promised in spite of Garland’s threats.

Kay Apfel

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