Local nonprofit, humanitarian join lawsuit against Abbott’s migrant transport order

A Texas Department of Public Safety officer directs a group of migrants who crossed the border and turned themselves in June 16 in Del Rio. (Eric Gay | The Associated Press)

A local nonprofit and a humanitarian volunteer filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order that restricts the transportation of migrants.

Angry Tías & Abuelas of the Rio Grande Valley, a nonprofit in Cameron County, and Jennifer Harbury, a local humanitarian advocate, are listed as plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the ACLU.

Their lawsuit is the second legal challenge against Abbott’s order, which would allow Texas Department of Public Safety troopers to stop civilians and impound their vehicles if they are transporting migrants.

The federal government filed an initial lawsuit against Abbott last week, just days after the governor signed his order. On Tuesday a judge in that case paused the enforcement of the executive order for 10 days.

At the time, DPS had not yet started to enforce the order, according to court records.

The lawsuit ACLU filed Thursday in a U.S. District Court in El Paso makes many of the same claims the federal government made in its initial lawsuit.

But the organization argues its suit differs from the first one because “the plaintiffs present the range of harms caused by the executive order to border communities, asylum seekers, their families, shelters, and drivers throughout Texas,” a news release from the organization said Thursday.

The release notes how Harbury, the humanitarian advocate, could be limited by the governor’s order.

“I recently assisted a woman and her little boy who were kidnapped three times in Reynosa, Mexico. She was gang raped in front of her child. I loved driving them to the movies, to ride a tricycle in the park — the normal things after so much trauma,” Harbury said in the release. “If the governor thinks he’s going to scare me off from doing that, I’d say to him, ‘Just go home, Mr. Abbott, just go home.’”

Angry Tías & Abuelas of the Rio Grande Valley said it joined the lawsuit to fulfill its mission and honor a recently deceased member.

“Our beloved fellow Tía Susan Law recently passed away. It is fitting that we file this lawsuit today to fulfill our mission of dignity and justice for asylum seekers,” the nonprofit said in the release. “In doing so, we honor Susan’s life and courageous work as part of the Tías.”