What's next after judge halts Abbott's immigration order?

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Thursday, August 5, 2021
What's next after judge halts Abbott's immigration order?
We'll learn the fate of a Gov. Abbott order that allows law enforcement to stop vehicles on suspicion of illegal immigration. But for now, advocacy groups contend the reason Abbott gave for the order - migrants spreading COVID - hasn't been proven.

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- A federal judge temporarily stopped Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order calling for the search of vehicles carrying suspected undocumented immigrants. So what's next for the governor?

Immigrants continue to pour into Texas every day. Some of them are brought to a transit facility in Houston.

The transit facility reports a big uptick in the past few days with more in the first days of August than in June or July.

They're not interested in the politics of the issue, just in helping people in need.

Among the dozens at the NACC warehouse located not far from Bush Intercontinental Airport, ABC13 met Sofia. She and her mother, Hilda, have spent the last five weeks traveling from Honduras. They are hoping to find relatives in Virginia.

Hilda said she wants a better life for her child. She said the journey was horrible, but she hopes it's worth it.

She's currently at the transit center, which has been open for about two months. That's where Carlos Villarreal leads the volunteer effort. He, too, has seen an uptick in the numbers.

"We need a location where they can solidify their travel plans, rest, have a meal, have a shower," he said. "We're probably averaging, the last four days, about 200 or 300."

Most volunteers stay out of the politics there, but they do tell ABC13 that while they can test for COVID-19 and have isolation units, they've not had any cases with immigrants, most of which are coming from Latin America.

READ ALSO: Migrant advocacy groups on Abbott's controversial traffic stop order: 'It is detrimental'

A legal battle is brewing between the Department of Justice and Gov. Greg Abbott. Meanwhile, migrant advocacy groups are putting up a fight.

But Abbott sees those who come to the state illegally as a real threat to Texans' safety.

He wants to spend state money to build a border wall to discourage human trafficking, and until a judge stopped his order, told the Texas Department of Public Safety to stop and detain vehicles which might be transporting migrants.

Abbott was not available to speak with ABC13 on Wednesday, but his office referred us to his statement on the judge's temporary stoppage of the order.

"We look forward to providing the Court with the evidence to support the Governor's Executive Order to protect Texans. The Biden Administration has knowingly-and willfully-released COVID-19 positive migrants into Texas communities, risking the potential exposure and infection of Texas resident."

The governor's chief of emergency management, Nim Kidd, did not wade into the order when asked, but told ABC13 he wants everyone tested and vaccinated no matter where they're from.

"We have made testing resources available to all of our federal partners down there in the [Rio Grande Valley] to test people that are coming across," said Kidd. "I wish more people would get tested, and frankly, we've offered the vaccine to anybody who is on Texas soil."

So what's next in the border battle? Geoffrey Hoffman with the University of Houston Law Center expects a long fight in the court.

"This is going to lead to further litigation," Hoffman said. "It's also problematic in that ... it's the state usurping the function, or one of the functions, the federal government."

In the meantime, hundreds, if not thousands, more will keep making their way north, through Houston, undocumented, but hopeful.

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