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El Paso judge issues injunction against Abbott ban on transporting migrants at the border

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Update 4:10 p.m.: This story now includes comment from the ACLU.

An El Paso federal judge on Thursday issued an injunction blocking Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order that barred aid groups and others from transporting migrants after they are released by federal immigration authorities.

U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone had earlier issued a temporary restraining order blocking implementation of Abbott’s July 28 executive order. The earlier order would have expired Friday, and the injunction will be in effect indefinitely, while Cardone decides whether to make the injunction permanent.

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She ruled on lawsuits brought against Abbott by the U.S. Justice Department and the American Civil Liberties Union and nongovernmental organizations. They said Abbott’s orders encroached on federal authority in immigration matters, and Cardone agreed in her ruling Thursday.

“Regardless of the object of the Order, its effect is clear: it disrupts federal enforcement of the immigration laws by authorizing state officials to make immigration determinations,” she wrote.

Cardone also rejected Abbott’s argument that the order was necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“The Order seems to do little to protect public health despite its purported motivations. 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,” the judge wrote.

Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Cardone’s ruling.

The ACLU applauded Cardone’s ruling.

“With the court’s injunction, our plaintiffs — including shelter providers, humanitarians, and immigrants living in Texas — will be able to live their lives and provide refuge for asylum seekers free from the threat of having their vehicles impounded or being forced to drive to the border. This is the first step to ensuring that this latest assault on Texans’ civil rights and effort to scapegoat immigrants by the governor is unsuccessful,” ACLU attorney Kate Huddleston said.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Cover photo: Members of the Border Network for Human Rights protested outside the Albert Armendariz Sr. United States Courthouse in Downtown El Paso on Aug. 2 as a federal judge considered a lawsuit brought by the Biden administration against Texas and Gov. Greg Abbott. (Robert Moore/El Paso Matters)

Robert Moore

Robert Moore is the founder and CEO of El Paso Matters. He has been a journalist in the Texas Borderlands since 1986. His work has received a number of top journalism honors including the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, Pulitzer Prize finalist and the Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award. Moore’s work has appeared in the Washington Post, Texas Monthly, ProPublica, National Public Radio, The Guardian and other publications. He has been featured as an expert on border issues by CNN, MSNBC, BBC, CBC and PBS.

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