TEXAS – The US Department of Justice filed suit against the State of Texas and is asking for either a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction to prevent the enforcement of Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order restricting the travel of certain migrants.
The order states “no person, other than a federal, state, or local law-enforcement official, shall provide ground transportation to a group of migrants who have been detained by CBP for crossing the border illegally.”
The order further instructs state troopers to stop, as well as potentially reroute or impound, any vehicles suspected of transporting immigrants released from Customs and Border Protection’s custody after being caught crossing the border illegally.
Echoing US Attorney General Merrick Garland’s concerns, the DOJ suit claims Abbott’s order interferes with federal operations.
Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton quickly fired back at the lawsuit, stating the “Biden Administration has abandoned its duty to secure the border.” Citing rising COVID numbers in border communities, and that Border Patrol does not test immigrants before their release, Abbott said he issued the order to help prevent the spread of the disease.
Customs and Border Protection has stated it does not test immigrants caught illegally crossing the border, but those who are released are sent to non-governmental organizations that do conduct testing and then place those who are positive in quarantine shelters. However, some border communities have complained this process doesn’t ensure all those who are COVID positive are placed in quarantine before traveling to other parts of the country.
The city of Hidalgo recently sued the federal government over the release of COVID-positive immigrants to a shelter in that city. City officials claim the system is flawed since only those immigrants who are taken to an NGO get tested.
The Biden administration is facing mounting pressure to take more immediate measures to address what is happening along our southern border. Customs and Border Protection reports there have already been more than 1-million apprehensions this year along the southern border. Apprehensions along the southern border have not been this high since 2006, according to CBP data. Border Patrol Chief of the Rio Grande Valley sector, Brian Hastings Tweeted on Sunday his agents apprehended 20,000 immigrants illegally crossing the border in one week.
It’s the hottest part of the summer and apprehensions are skyrocketing! #USBP Apprehensions surpassed the 1-million milestone in June.
— Chief Patrol Agent Brian Hastings (@USBPChiefRGV) July 25, 2021
Texas Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar and South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham sent a joint letter to the President, urging him to appoint a new Border Czar. Roberta Jacobson stepped down from that position in April and the responsibility shifted to Vice President Kamala Harris.
“The people in charge have had six months and it’s getting worse and I’m not here to throw partisan stones today, but something has got to give,” said Graham.
Both suggested appointing former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson; praising his handling of similar border problems under President Barack Obama. Cuellar, who represents the Laredo area, said Border Patrol is overwhelmed and residents are becoming increasingly concerned about the number of immigrants caught illegally crossing the border and then released into the community.
“They’re saying, forget about political party, we need help down here,” said Cuellar.
Cuellar said since March, 55,000 immigrants have been released from border patrol custody without being issued Notices to Appear in immigration court. Cuellar said because of the volume, many times agents have to record an immigrant’s personal information and then instruct them to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office within 60 days. KPRC 2 has asked ICE how many of these immigrants have reported in and we are awaiting a response.
Cuellar also noted 80 border patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley sector and another 17 in the Laredo sector tested positive for COVID-19. Cuellar said another 100 agents are in isolation for COVID-19 exposure.
Donations to help fund Texas’ border wall continue to come in, even though no formal construction plan has been developed. The Texas Facilities Commission is still drafting the Request for Proposal needed to hire a project manager who will determine the scope and cost of building a wall. Records obtained from the Governor’s Office show 6,481 donations were made between Jun 16 and July 15 for a total of $618,968.86. The single largest donation was $5,000 and 55% of all the donations were in amounts of less than $100.
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