Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday slammed Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s horrifying order instructing officers to stop and even confiscate the vehicles of civilian drivers and contractors who they believe are transporting migrants, calling it “contrary to federal law,” and reminding the state that such a law “cannot be enforced.”
Garland’s letter instructs Abbott “to immediately rescind” his order or face legal consequences from the federal government. “If you do not do so,” Garland continues, “the United States intends to pursue all appropriate legal remedies to ensure that Texas does not interfere with the functions of the federal government.” Attorney General Garland, what are you waiting for?
Abbott’s order uses the pandemic as pretext to halt vehicles suspected of transporting migrants who have recently crossed the U.S., but in reality continues the racist “immigrants bring disease” trope. It’s a blatantly illegal order that serves as an open invitation to racially profile civilians, “with state troopers pulling over cars and buses without lawful justification, profiling passengers, and questioning people about their immigration status,” American Civil Liberties Union of Texas staff attorney Kate Huddleston said.
And the order also has the potential to impede contractors working on behalf of the federal government, Garland says. “The United States advances its immigration and public health functions in Texas through a variety of federal officials, contractors, and grantees,” he writes. “Some federal officials who work in Texas on behalf of agencies including the Department of Health & Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency may not be considered ‘law-enforcement official[s]’ exempted from the Order. But, under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, a state may not interfere with or obstruct these federal officials in the performance of their duties.”
“Moreover, Texas has no authority to interfere with the United States' ‘broad, undoubted power over the subject of immigration’ by impairing the United States' release of individuals and the ability of those individuals to comply with federal immigration law,” Garland continues in the letter. “To the extent the Order interferes with immigration enforcement, the Order is unconstitutional.”
Abbott, of course, probably loves the fact that he’s in a fight with the federal government over immigration. As long as he’s instigating a battle with the AG, Abbott doesn’t have to talk about those pesky five-figure energy charges facing some Texas residents. CNN reports that, in a statement, Abbott claimed that it’s the Biden administration that “is jeopardizing the health and safety of Texans on a daily basis by refusing to follow the law.” Someone did sign into law a bill scrapping pandemic safety measures in Texas, but it wasn’t Joe Biden, dear readers. Abbott also says he’ll “take every available step consistent with the law to fulfill my duty to protect the health and safety of all Texans."
But advocacy leaders warn that the policy is actually intended to hurt minority communities in the state, saying it was setting up an open invitation to racially profile Texans who have already long been dealing with existing immigration checkpoints within the borderlands. “For an area like the Rio Grande Valley, where I think a lot of people already experienced kind of racial profiling from cops, and we have local law enforcement collaborating with Border Patrol, this is just gonna have a catastrophic impact,” La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) Advocacy Director Dani Marrero Hi told The Texas Tribune.
“Words cannot describe how horrifyingly illegal @GregAbbott_TX's new executive order is,” American Immigration Council Policy Counsel Aaron Reichlin-Melnick wrote in a Twitter thread responding to Abbott’s order. “He is ordering Texas state police to seize the vehicles of any private citizens or contractors who transport migrants, something which is 100% legal. This is dangerous, dangerous stuff.” Abbott has made it clear he’s not budging. He’s proud of what he’s doing, and he has no intent to back down. The federal government should respond accordingly.