EXCLUSIVE: Texas GOP congressional members are calling on Attorney General Ken Paxton to file another lawsuit against the Biden Administration in an effort to block undocumented immigrants with coronavirus from entering the United States.
The 20 Texas lawmakers wrote Paxon on Monday, in a letter obtained first by Fox News, urging him to end the “crisis” at the southern border by suing to ensure that people caught crossing the border illegally during the coronavirus pandemic are turned away. Those public health protections, known as Title 42, were put in place under the Trump Administration and the lawmakers accuse President Biden of failing to enforce them.
“We write to urge you to protect the American people from a crisis at our southern border, which was manufactured by the Biden Administration and has led to tens of thousands of illegal immigrants entering our nation,” the lawmakers wrote to Paxton. “These immigrants have not been tested for COVID-19 and pose an incredible threat to the health and safety of the American people.”
People surround a car as it arrives carrying food donations at a makeshift camp for migrants seeking asylum in the United States at the border crossing Friday, March 12, 2021, in Tijuana, Mexico. The Biden administration hopes to relieve the strain of thousands of unaccompanied children coming to the southern border by terminating a 2018 Trump-era order that discouraged potential family sponsors from coming forward to house the children. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Paxton, a Republican, already filed a lawsuit against the Biden Administration during the president’s first week in office in an effort to stop a 100-day moratorium on most deportations for unauthorized immigrants already inside the United States. A Texas federal judge in February sided with Paxton and blocked Biden from moving forward with the deportation pause.
FILE FEBRUARY 22, 2020: Former Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne, GOP candidate for the 24th Congressional district in Texas, holds a meet and greet event at PJ’s Cafe in Irving, Texas on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
While numbers have been increasing at the border for months, particularly of unaccompanied children (UACs) and family units, they have spiked since Biden took office. The number of UACs in custody has tripled in recent weeks, while there were more than 100,000 migrant encounters in February.
Critics have blamed the dramatic liberalizing of immigration policy and rollback of Trump-era border protections for encouraging the flow and removing the tools that allow migrants to be kept out or returned to their home countries.
The Biden Administration has been scrambling to deal with a surge in child migrants in particular — with officials moving to expand capacity to house and transfer them.
The Biden administration has refused to call the dramatic increase in migrants — particularly child migrants, who cannot be expelled under Title 42 — a crisis. The Biden Administration has not formally rescinded Title 42, which Trump put in place, and contends those provisions are still being enforced.
A White House spokesperson told Fox News Monday: “The position of the Administration continues to be that now is the not the time to come and the vast majority of individuals will continue to be turned away under Title 42.”
Paxton’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on whether he is considering a lawsuit.
The letter marks the latest back and forth between Texas and the Biden Administration over immigration and coronavirus. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott already accused Biden of releasing covid-positive migrants into the Lone Star State and suggesting the influx of people are to blame for any increasing spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, the Biden Administration accused Abbott of being callous with the coronavirus first by canceling a mask mandate against public health guidance, which Biden chided as “Neanderthal thinking.” Then, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Abbott is putting Texas at risk by rejecting federal assistance to test migrants for COVID-19.
The Texas lawmakers say the surge of migrants at the border is a crisis “manufactured” by Biden and a “danger” to public health.
Ken Paxton, Texas attorney general, speaks during a news conference outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
“Texas and other border states are desperately trying to ensure that their economies are returning to normal, Americans are back to work and the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Texas continue to drop,” the lawmakers said in their letter. “We cannot allow these advances to be undermined by an unknown number of COVID-19 cases pouring across the southern border.”
In addition to Van Duyne, the letter was signed by fellow Texas GOP Reps. Ronny Jackson, Jodey Arrington, Brian Babin, Kevin Brady, Michael Burgess, John Carter, Michael Cloud, Dan Crenshaw, Pat Fallon, Louie Gohmert, Lance Gooden, Michael McCaul, Troy Nehls, August Pfluger, Chip Roy, Pete Sessions, Van Taylor, Randy Weber and Roger Williams.
The two GOP Texas House members not on the letter were Reps. Tony Gonzales and Kay Granger.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.
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