Texas Doubles Down: Threatens to Sue Groups Bringing Syrian Refugees
Texas officials are doubling-down on their opposition to Syrian refugees settling in the state. Help them and we may sue you and may terminate your funding from the state, state officials warn.
Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Chris Traylor sent letters and admonished agencies in the state who help Syrian refugees while refusing to cooperate with Texas officials, saying, “I must ask that you fulfill your statutory duty to conduct your activities ‘in close cooperation and advance consultation’ with the State of Texas pursuant to section 1522 of Title 8 of the United States Code.”
Traylor noted that “Texas has a proven record of providing humanitarian assistance to refugees fleeing persecution. Texas accepts approximately 10 percent of all refugees resettled in the United States — more than any other State.”
Citing the applicable federal statute, the Commissioner added that “until recently the United States was unable to accept more than a few hundred Syrian refugees per year because federal law excluded any refugees who had provided material support to a terrorist organization.” Traylor noted that President Obama unilaterally exempted Syrian refugees from the ban in order to increase the number of refugees to 10,000 this year.
The Commissioner warned, “If you remain unwilling to cooperate with the state in this matter, we strongly believe that a failure to cooperate with the State on this matter violates federal law and your contract with the state.”
He continued, “Failure by your organization to cooperate with the State of Texas as required by federal law may result in the termination of your contract with the state and other legal action.”
Traylor said Texas Governor Greg Abbott had advised him that his “foremost obligation is to keep citizens safe.” He explained, “The Governor believes that accepting refugees from Syria is incompatible with an absolute commitment to the safety of Texans because the President has shown the Governor no willingness to improve the security screenings of refugees from Syria, despite the abundant evidence that the screenings are ineffective.”
The commissioner noted that Abbott has responded to the security threat to Texans “by calling for a temporary halt to resettlement of any further refugees in Texas until concerns about the effectiveness of security screenings are addressed.” He urged the agencies to “cooperate with the State of Texas, as required by law, as we work together to implement Governor Abbott’s efforts to keep our doors open to refugees while at the same time keeping Texans secure.”
Governor Abbott said that he supports the action by Traylor, as well as taking legal action and cutting off state funding of these agencies in order to protect Texans.