Judge blocks Texas Gov. Abbott's order restricting transportation of migrants

A federal judge in Texas sided with the Biden administration Wednesday, blocking an executive order from Gov. Greg Abbott (R) that limited nongovernmental organizations from transporting migrants from the southern border.

The July order from Abbott effectively made it illegal to transport undocumented immigrants in a car, with state officials saying it was intended to stem the coronavirus pandemic's spread.

Federal District Court Judge Kathleen Cardone, a George W. Bush appointee, sided with the Department of Justice, which filed suit after Attorney General Merrick Garland penned a letter telling Abbot to withdraw the order.

“Because Governor Abbott’s Executive Order authorizes Texas Department of Public Safety officers to make and act up on immigration determinations, the province of federal law, it violates the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution,” Cardone wrote in the decision.

The ruling nullifies the order while the litigation continues.

Abbott's order barred anyone other than federal, state or local law enforcement from transporting migrants back to the border — something Garland warned would impede border officials' ability to contract with various groups, while civil rights groups said it would lead to racial profiling.

It also directed the Texas Department of Public Safety to “stop any vehicle upon suspicion” of transporting migrants, and says the agency is authorized to “impound a vehicle” that was used to transport a group of migrants. 

“As part of the execution of U.S. immigration laws, there are a variety of circumstances in which noncitizens must be transported between locations,” the Department of Justice wrote in its suit, noting that noncitizens “need transportation, frequently through privately arranged travel by bus or rail.”