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Abbott issues executive order permitting officials to return immigrants in Texas illegally to the border

The Texas governor blamed the Biden Administration for this "unprecedented action" from the State.

AUSTIN, Texas — On Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order that authorizes the Texas National Guard and the Texas Department of Public Safety to apprehend immigrants in the country illegally and return them to the border.

In a press release announcing the new order, Gov. Abbott blamed the Biden Administration's recent decision to end Title 42 expulsions and the remain in Mexico policy for "historic levels of illegal crossings." Abbott's office said 5,000 migrants were apprehended over the Fourth of July weekend and that there is an ongoing crisis that has "overrun communities" at the border and across the state.

"While President Biden refuses to do his job and enforce the immigration laws enacted by Congress, the State of Texas is once again stepping up and taking unprecedented action to protect Americans and secure our southern border," said Gov. Abbott. "The cartels have become emboldened and enriched by President Biden's open border policies, smuggling in record numbers of people, weapons and deadly drugs like fentanyl."

The Texas Democratic Party called Abbott's order "unlawful" and "bigoted," with Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa releasing the following statement Thursday evening.

"Today's bad-faith, unlawful political stunt of the day from Gov. Abbott is just as bigoted as all his others. The key difference is that today he's dabbling with the word 'invasion' – the same racist concept that fueled the 2019 El Paso shooter who drove hundreds of miles to specifically gun down Latinos.

"We need real leadership in this state ASAP: leadership that will work with Washington to create an orderly system of immigration that reflects our values, not buck the law in the hopes of getting a positive Fox News evening segment.

“Greg Abbott will continue to cower to the 4chan demands of the day just to shore up a few more votes from the Proud Boys in his next election. For the well-being of our state, and for the sake of the humanity of migrants seeking refuge in the United States – we must retire Greg Abbott this fall. We cannot afford to see how much more desperate and extreme his stunts will become.”

Austin-based immigration attorney Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch agrees the order seems to be political grandstanding.

"This executive order says nothing about the federal law that is already in existence. My guess is we're not actually going to see a lot of activity based on this order," Lincoln-Goldfinch said. "This is just something to get a lot of attention, and we probably will see maybe a few actions along the border, but not a lot of activity."

The attorney added the order itself is fairly vague, leaving her with many questions.

"The order doesn't specify the limit to which the state will go or the National Guard will go to apprehend immigrants. Are they going to be knocking on people's doors and visiting people in the interior of Texas? Are they going to remain within a certain mile set of miles from the border, or are they going to work with Border Patrol, or are they going to complicate things for Border Patrol like they have done in the past," Lincoln-Goldfinch said.

She also argued any enforcement may come down to racial profiling.

"The order doesn't specify where these immigrants will be coming from," she continued. "It seems like there is no way that it can be implemented without racially profiling people and specifically picking out people who look like they are immigrants and probably are people of color, people who look like they're from Central America."

Abbott's announcement comes one day after reports that the U.S. Department of Justice has launched an investigation into alleged civil rights violations under his border operation, Operation Lone Star.

The governor's full executive order can be read here.

Other actions taken by the governor to secure the border can be read here.

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