Federal judge extends order blocking Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive for law enforcement to pull over vehicles transporting migrants

Asylum seekers walk to Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church during a procession led by Father Roy Snipes on Aug. 3, 2021.

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A federal judge in El Paso on Friday extended her order blocking Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive to state troopers to pull over drivers transporting migrants “who pose a risk of carrying COVID-19.”

U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone lengthened her restraining order by another two weeks after a hearing Friday, according to a court filing. Her original order on Aug. 3 was set to expire Friday.

In July, Abbott ordered state troopers to pull over civilian drivers giving rides to recent immigrants who may be infected with the virus and redirect the drivers to their origin point. If the driver didn’t comply, the troopers should seize their vehicles, the order said.

Soon after, the U.S. Department of Justice sued Texas and Abbott, describing the governor’s executive order as “dangerous and unlawful.”

In the lawsuit, the DOJ said Abbott’s order would disrupt federal immigration officials’ network of contractors and nongovernmental organizations that help host recently arrived migrants while their legal cases are pending.

A spokesperson for Abbott didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Abbott has previously defended his order as necessary to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Texas. Advocates for migrants say it would disrupt federal immigration efforts and encourage state troopers to racially profile people.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas has filed a separate lawsuit against Abbott on behalf of immigrants rights organizations, also seeking to block the governor’s order.

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