A federal judge in El Paso, Texas, granted the Biden administration’s request for a preliminary injunction halting an executive order issued by Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott that targeted the transport of migrants.
The executive order had already been put on hold with a temporary restraining order from US District Judge Kathleen Cardone that was set to expire on Friday.
The judge shot down Abbott’s stated rationale for the order, which the governor claimed he issued as a public health measure against the coronavirus.
“The order seems to do little to protect public health despite its purported motivations,” Cardone wrote Thursday. “Texas presents no evidence that noncitizens entering the United States at the border pose a particular health risk such that restricting their transportation would improve health and safety.”
Cardone said the preliminary injunction will be in place until the case is resolved on the merits. However, the judge’s move on Thursday also sets the stage for Texas to potentially seek the intervention of the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals.
Abbott’s order, issued on July 28, directed Texas state troopers to stop any vehicle if there is “reasonable suspicion” that it is transporting certain migrants who illegally crossed the US-Mexico border and were released from the custody of US Customs and Border Protection.
The move appeared aimed at the private entities that work with the federal government to transport migrants after they have been released from US custody. The US Justice Department challenged the order in court two days later, with a lawsuit alleging that the order was an illegal preemption of federal law and a violation of the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause.
Cardone, an appointee of President George W. Bush, said that the Justice Department was likely to succeed in those arguments and it had shown that allowing the order to stay in effect would bring a risk of irreparable harm to the federal government.
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