Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Wednesday to try to stop the dispersion of the coronavirus in his state by giving state police the power to stop and turn back vehicles — particularly buses — carrying illegal immigrants who were caught at the border, then released by the Biden administration.
Mr. Abbott said police can also impound vehicles.
He said he had to step in to handle the thousands of illegal immigrants being caught that are quickly released by Homeland Security every week, saying there’s evidence they are a significant source of spread of the coronavirus.
His order does not block federal law enforcement agencies from shuttling migrants around, but it applies to anyone who is not connected to law enforcement.
Mr. Abbott, a Republican, said under a federal public health emergency order, known as Title 42, all illegal border crossers are supposed to be immediately expelled to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But under the Biden administration, a large number of migrants are instead being caught and released.
They are boarding buses and airplanes to head deeper into the U.S., where they risk further spread of the virus, local officials warn.
Mr. Abbott justified his order by pointing to the federal government’s own warnings about the delta variant of the coronavirus, which is thought to be more contagious, and to the lower rates of vaccination in the key countries sending migrants to the U.S.
“President Biden’s failure to enforce the Title 42 order, combined with his refusal to enforce the immigration laws enacted by Congress, is having a predictable and potentially catastrophic effect on public health in Texas,” the governor said in his order.
The governor cited state laws that he said allow him to “control ingress and egress to and from a disaster area.”