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Abbott responds to Garland: It’s clear Texas and feds face a constitutional crisis

FILE - In this Feb. 5, 2019, file photo, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott gives his State of the State Address in the House Chamber in Austin, Texas. Texas lawmakers have given final approval to allowing people carry handguns without a license, and the background check and training that go with it. The Republican-dominated Legislature approved the measure Monday, May 24, 2021 sending it to Gov. Abbott. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

(Texas News Radio) — U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garlard threatened to sue Texas Gov. Greg Abbott over his recent executive order to have Texas Department of Public Safety stop any vehicle improperly transporting illegal migrants from international ports of entry by ground.

Garland Thursday urged Abbott to immediately walk back the directive that allows state troopers to pull over vehicles suspected of carrying migrants on the basis that they could increase the spread of COVID-19 in Texas.

The governor responded Friday with his own letter to the attorney general.

“It is clear from the arguments in your letter that the State of Texas and the federal government face a constitutional crisis,” Abbott wrote in the letter.

“Your actions, combined with the actions and omissions of the Biden Administration, directly conflict with my authority as Governor; and, candidly, conflict with the duty and obligation imposed on the Biden Administration to apply and enforce the immigration laws passed by the United States Congress.”

Abbott said the Biden administration is failing to enforce immigration laws by allowing migrants to unlawfully enter the country.  The governor did note immigration is the federal government’s jurisdiction and not the state’s, but said the White House is creating its own immigration laws instead of following laws enacted by Congress.

“Worse, the Biden Administration is knowingly admitting hundreds of thousands of unauthorized
migrants, many of whom the federal government knows full well have COVID-19,” the governor continued. “To be clear, the Biden Administration is knowingly importing COVID-19 into Texas from across the border and knowingly exposing Texans and Americans to that disease. While the Biden Administration is openly pondering looming shutdowns and mandates on U.S. citizens to control the spread of COVID-19, at the same time the Administration is knowingly worsening the problem by importing COVID-19 at extreme rates.”

Abbott noted that, “Under long-established emergency response laws used by Texas in partnership with the federal government, I have the authority to control the movement of people to contain the spread of a disaster.  An obvious application of that standard is to limit the movement of people who are likely to have COVID-19. The assertion of this authority in Executive Order GA-37 is limited only to intra-state movement. It in no way interferes with either inter-state or international movement.”

The State of Texas is still under a state of emergency though a disaster declaration in effect over every county to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.  The original proclamation, issued March 13, 2020, was extended Friday for the month of August 2021.

The governor is offering the White House two options to prevent “a constitutional showdown”:

  • The White House can keep and ensure that any unauthorized migrants it permits to enter the United States only on federally owned or operated land.
  • The White House can enforce the existing federal immigration laws and stop admitting migrants not authorized to enter the United States by Congress.

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