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Texas Gov. Abbott Says Migrant Transport Is A Public Health Issue. Critics Allege The Restrictions Violate Federal Law, Encourage Racial Profiling

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Brian Kirkpatrick | Texas Public Radio
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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is facing backlash and lawsuits over an executive order issued July 28 to stop anyone who isn’t in law enforcement from transporting migrants along the Texas border and allow state troopers to pull over and impound vehicles suspected of transporting migrants who could have COVID-19.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported more than 1.1 million migrant apprehensions during the first six months of this fiscal year, and a record high of nearly 190,000 apprehensions were recorded in June alone.

According to Abbott's order, "busloads of migrants, an unknown number of whom are infected with COVID-l9, are being transported to communities across the State of Texas." Critics worry the governor's directive would lead to widespread racial profiling by troopers.

On Friday, the U.S. Justice Department sued to block the directive aimed at restricting the travel of migrants, saying Abbott's order violates intergovernmental immunity and interferes with the federal government's ability to lawfully release and transport migrants.

The DOJ also faulted Texas' governor for failing to explain how “restricting the identity of the person who can transport those noncitizens has any relevance to stopping the spread of COVID-19.”

A U.S. district court judge issued a temporary restraining order on Tuesday that will remain in effect through Aug. 13.

What were Gov. Abbott's reasons for issuing this order? Does he have the authority to do so? Does Texas have the right to interfere with the federal government’s administration of immigration policy?

What are the arguments for and against, and potential implications of the measures Abbott intends to implement? Would migrant transportation restrictions help curb Texas' COVID-19 surge?

If mitigating the virus' spread is Abbott's aim, why has he also ordered an across-the-board ban on local-level mask mandates and vaccine requirements?

What happens next in the fight over Abbott's embattled executive order? What if no further action is taken before the restraining order expires next Friday?

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*This interview was recorded on Thursday, August 5.