Published: Sat, January 11, 2020

Texas governor to reject new refugees, first under Trump

Texas governor to reject new refugees, first under Trump

"In addition to accepting refugees all these years, Texas has been left by Congress to deal with disproportionate migration issues resulting from a broken federal immigration system", Abbot's letter explains.

Texas has become the first state to refuse refugee resettlement under a new rule set forth by the Trump administration.

It wasn't clear how Abbott's letter might affect any now pending refugee cases.

"Texas has a long and proud history of welcoming refugees", Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of HIAS, a refugee resettlement group that is part of the current legal battle, said in a statement. Ali Al Sudani, chief programs officer of Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, predicted that some refugees with longstanding plans to come to Texas would have flights rescheduled or delayed.

"You can imagine the message that this decision will send to them and to their families", Al Sudani said.

Almost 90 mayors, including those from Austin, Brownsville, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, and San Antonio, penned a letter to the Secretary of State opposing the executive order and asking for an increase in the number of refugees allowed to resettle in the USA, which was reduced from 30,000 to 18,000 in Fiscal Year 2020.

About 30,000 refugees were resettled in the USA during the previous fiscal year.


Gov. Greg Abbott, pictured in February 2019, said Texas does not consent to allow refugees to resettle within the state. The governors who haven't chimed in are all Republicans and are from Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Wyoming.

Under the executive order, if state entities do not believe they have the resources required to adequately care for individuals under the resettlement program, state and local jurisdictions can choose to opt-out of the program.

Three of the nine national resettlement agencies sued the Trump administration in federal court in an effort to block the order from being implemented. However, at least 42 other states have agreed to take more refugees.

Texas is one of the most welcoming states for refugees seeking to escape dangers overseas. since FY2010, more refugees have been received in Texas than in any other state.

Abbott has tried to stop refugees before, declaring in 2015 that Texas would not welcome people from Syria following the deadly Paris attacks that November. Even today, the process of resettling continues for many of these refugees.

Despite previous opposition to the refugee resettlement program by Republicans, Abbott is the only Republican governor to halt the refugee flow to his state with 19 other Republican governors asking the Trump administration to continue resettling refugees in their communities.

"Literally you can take the bus the next day and come to Texas", he said.

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