(The Center Square) – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order restricting ground transportation of migrants who may be COVID-positive into Texas communities. The order directs the Texas Department of Public Safety to stop any vehicle upon reasonable suspicion and reroute drivers to their point of origin or a port of entry and impound the vehicle.
"The dramatic rise in unlawful border crossings has also led to a dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases among unlawful migrants who have made their way into our state, and we must do more to protect Texans from this virus and reduce the burden on our communities," Abbott said in a statement.
In his amended order, Abbott says, “President [Joe] Biden’s failure to enforce the Title 42 order, combined with his refusal to enforce the immigration laws enacted by Congress, is having a predictable and potentially catastrophic effect on public health in Texas.”
Title 42 was used by the previous administration to protect Americans from COVID-l9 by rapidly expelling illegal immigrants who might transmit the coronavirus or other contagious diseases across the border.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Biden administration for not fulling implementing Title 42. The administration has exempted unaccompanied children and certain family units from Title 42 since May 12.
Those entering the U.S. illegally through Mexico are doing so as a third wave of COVID-19 has spread there, with confirmed case numbers increasing 53% from May to June and deaths increasing 42% over the same period, according to a Mexico News Daily report. Despite this, the White House “is considering ending [Title 42] as early as July 31,” Axios reported.
Paxton argues that Title 42, “when it was faithfully enforced, was extraordinarily successful in expelling illegal aliens, protecting Americans’ public health, and preserving our limited public resources. The Biden Administration has unlawfully abandoned its legal duties, resulting in a massive increase in illegal immigration at the border, and in turn forced Texas to bear additional massive costs and harms. The Court must intervene to stop this insanity.”
Abbott also issued another executive order granting the Texas National Guard with arresting powers. The order came two months after counties asked him to provide military aid, which has not yet happened, and after gubernatorial opponents have criticized Abbott for not having already given guardsmen arresting powers or strategically placed them along the Texas border.
Abbott sent a letter to Major General Tracy R. Norris, Adjutant General of the Texas National Guard, ordering guardsmen to assist DPS with arresting illegal immigrants for violating state laws, including drug offenses, criminal trespassing, human smuggling and trafficking, and other crimes.
"To respond to this disaster and secure the rule of law at our Southern border, more manpower is needed – in addition to the troopers from DPS and soldiers from the Texas National Guard I have already deployed there – and DPS needs help in arresting those who are violating state law," the letter states.
“As ‘Commander-in-Chief of the military forces of the State’ under Article IV, Section 7 of the Texas Constitution, the governor can ‘call forth the militia to execute the laws of the State,’” the letter states.
The actions follow a disaster proclamation Abbott issued May 31 that states that “the surge of individuals unlawfully crossing the Texas-Mexico border poses an ongoing and imminent threat of disaster for certain counties and agencies in the State of Texas, including the potential for the spread of COVID-l9.”