(USA Features) Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Wednesday greatly restricting the transport of migrants who have been detained by federal border enforcement agents, citing an increase in COVID-19 infections caused, in part, by waves of people crossing illegally into the state.
“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 our state, and we must do more to protect Texans from this virus and reduce the burden on our communities,” Abbott noted in a statement.
“This executive order will reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure in our communities.”
The governor’s order bars anyone other than federal, state, or local officials from transporting migrants who have been detained by Customs and Border Protection agents after crossing illegally into Texas and are subject to expulsion under federal Title 42.
“The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is directed to stop any vehicle upon reasonable suspicion of a violation [of the order] and to reroute such a vehicle back to its point of origin or a port of entry if a violation is confirmed,” Abbott’s order says.
It also authorized the DPS to impound any vehicles that refuse to comply with rerouting orders.
The new executive order follows one issued a day earlier by Abbott authorizing the Texas National Guard to help state law enforcement authorities make arrests of illegal aliens as related to the ongoing border crisis.
The governor sent a letter to Texas Adjutant General Major Gen. Tracy Norris with the new authorization and instructions.
“By virtue of the power and authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the State of Texas, I hereby order that the Texas National Guard assist DPS in enforcing Texas law by arresting lawbreakers at the border,” Abbott’s letter said.
In explaining why National Guard members should be empowered to make arrests, Abbott said in his letter that “more manpower is needed” in order to deal with the crush of migrants crossing illegally by the tens of thousands each month into Texas.
In addition, Abbott argued that according to the Texas constitution, his powers as “Commander-in-Chief of the military forces” of the state give him the authority to issue the order.
It also “likewise recognizes that the governor can call on state military forces ‘to enforce state law’ and ‘to assist civil authorities in guarding [or] conveying prisoners,’” said the letter.
“To respond to this disaster and secure the rule of law at our Southern border, more manpower is needed—in addition to the troopers from DPS and soldiers from the Texas National Guard I have already deployed there—and DPS needs help in arresting those who are violating state law,” Abbott wrote.