The Biden administration is suing the state of Texas to block an executive order Gov. Greg Abbott issued restricting the transport of certain immigrants he contends pose a risk of spreading the coronavirus.
The Justice Department filed the suit Friday afternoon in federal court in El Paso after Attorney General Merrick Garland sent Abbott a letter Thursday warning that the order intrudes on the federal government’s power over immigration enforcement.
“The Order is contrary to federal law and cannot be enforced. Accordingly, consistent with its authorities under federal law, the United States will continue its noncitizen transportation operations unabated. I urge you to immediately rescind the Order,” Garland wrote.
Along with the suit, the Justice Department filed a request that a judge issue a temporary restraining order lifting Abbott’s order pending further court action.
The case was assigned to Judge Kathleen Cardone, an appointee of President George W. Bush.
Abbott’s order, issued Wednesday, says immigrants can only be transported by ground by law enforcement officials, but Garland has said the federal government sometimes uses contractors and grantees to move immigrants, including children in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services.