Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott accused President Joe Biden of starting a “constitutional crisis” after being sued over his order directing state troopers to pull over vehicles suspected of containing undocumented migrants.
The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Texas over Abbott’s executive order on Friday. Within hours, Abbott issued a statement insisting that his order was aimed at protecting public health amid the COVID-19 pandemic while vowing that he has “no intention of abdicating” his “responsibility to protect the people of Texas.”
“The Biden Administration has created a constitutional crisis between the federal government and the State of Texas,” Abbott said. “This stems from the Biden Administration’s refusal to enforce immigration laws and allow illegal immigrants with COVID-19 to enter our country.”
Abbott alleged that the administration “knowingly imports COVID-19 into Texas from across the border,” while maintaining that the president “abdicated his authority” to “protect and uphold our nation’s sovereignty.”
“Until President Biden and his Administration do their jobs to enforce the laws of our nation and protect Americans, the State of Texas will continue to step up to protect our communities and uphold the rule of law,” Abbott continued.
While issuing his order on Wednesday, Abbott said that 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” Texas.
The text of the order repeatedly blasts Biden’s actions and praises former President Donald Trump for having taken “action to protect Americans from COVID-19 by rapidly expelling migrants who could carry the disease across the border.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland sent Abbott a letter on Thursday, arguing that that governor’s order “violates federal law in numerous respects.” Garland threatened to take legal action “to ensure that Texas does not interfere with the functions of the federal government” if Abbott did not withdraw the order.
Abbott replied in a letter on Friday, telling Garland that his order does not interfere with the federal government and warning that “the arguments in your letter” indicate “that the State of Texas and the federal government face a constitutional crisis.
The lawsuit filed a short time later asserts that Abbott’s order “is preempted by federal law,” explaining that it “violates the Supremacy Clause and the doctrine of intergovernmental immunity, and therefore is invalid, null, and void.”
“States have 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,” the complaint reads.
As in most states, cases of COVID-19 have been increasing in Texas. However, there does not appear to be any evidence showing that migrants are causing the rise in cases.
While cases are not surging in Texas as much as in some other states, the state is in the bottom third in terms of the percentage of residents who are fully vaccinated against the virus, at around 44 percent of the population.
A total of over 53,000 Texas COVID-19 deaths recently eclipsed the toll in New York, where 57 percent of residents are fully vaccinated, despite the Empire State having had 29,000 more deaths than the Lone Star State last summer.
Regardless of the increase in cases and deaths, Abbott on Friday issued an order banning local authorities from imposing mask mandates or vaccine requirements.
Newsweek reached out to the Department of Justice for comment.
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