Judge blocks Texas plan to stop vehicles with migrants

A federal judge in El Paso on Tuesday temporarily halted Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s plan to use state law enforcement to stop vehicles suspected of transporting migrants released from U.S. border custody.

U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone issued an order blocking Texas authorities from enforcing Abbott’s directive until at least August 13, saying the order could be unconstitutional.

Tuesday’s ruling, while temporary, is a triumph for the Biden administration, which has been engaged in an escalating political and legal conflict with Texas over the fate of the country’s border and immigration policies.

Citing concerns about the spread of COVID-19, Abbott instructed the Texas Department of Public Safety last week to stop and re-route vehicles “upon reasonable suspicion” that they may be carrying migrants who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border and were subsequently released from federal custody.

The Biden administration filed a lawsuit against Abbott’s edict the day after it was issued, arguing that the plan would interfere with the federal government’s efforts to enforce immigration laws and impair its partnership with border-area nonprofits, which have been sheltering and providing coronavirus testing to families released from Border Patrol facilities.

Attorneys representing Texas informed Cardone on Monday that Abbott’s executive order had yet to be implemented, as the state’s Department of Public Safety was still drafting enforcement guidelines.