The U.S. Justice Department on Friday, filed a lawsuit suing Texas and its Governor Greg Abbott to block a state Executive Order filed by Abbott to restrict travel of illegal immigrants who may have COVID-19.

The complaint states that Abbott’s Executive Order, issued on Wednesday, interferes with the federal government’s ability to lawfully release migrants and that “No State may obstruct the Federal Government in the discharge of its constitutional responsibilities.”  The filing comes one day after Attorney General Merrick Garland asked Abbot to withdraw what he described as a dangerous and unlawful Executive Order. 

The Executive Order, which Abbott signed states, “No person, other than a federal, state, or local law-enforcement official, shall provide ground transportation to a group of migrants” who are detained by federal immigration officials for illegally crossing the southern border.  Abbott said there were reports of COVID-positive migrants being dropped off by Homeland Security Department officials in the border towns of La Joya and McAllen pending their U.S. immigration court proceedings.

The lawsuit was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in El Paso. The DOJ also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction to stop enforcement of Abbott’s order, which the DOJ said “will immediately and irreparably harm the United States and the noncitizens in its custody.”

Abbott’s responded to Garland on Thursday in a statement saying, I will fight off any effort from the Justice Department to block the Executive Order.  He indicated he would do whatever necessary to protect the lives of all Texans.

The newly filed lawsuit is the latest pushback from the Biden administration over the actions taken by Abbott on theU.S./Mexico border, such as jailing migrants on state crimes and building new border fencing. It also comes as the Biden administration grapples with a surge of migrants at the U.S./Mexico border, with detentions hitting 20-year highs.

Over 1.1 million apprehensions have been recorded during the first six months of this fiscal year, according to the U.S. Customs and Border protection. And a record high of nearly 190,000 apprehensions were recorded in June alone.

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