Texas threatens resettlement agency over Syrian refugees
01 December 2015, Nirapad News: Texas wanted assurances Monday from a major resettlement agency that it will not accept Syrian refugees and threatened legal action if Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders are defied.
The International Rescue Committee has given no indication that it will change course and relocate Syrian refugees somewhere other than Texas. Phone and email messages to the group were not immediately returned.
Abbott is among nearly two dozen governors, mostly Republicans, who have vowed to block efforts to resettle Syrian refugees in their states following the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris. The Obama administration reminded them in a Nov. 25 letter that states don’t have that legal authority and could be punished if services are denied.
That same day, Texas health officials sent their own letter, warning legal action against the International Rescue Committee if Syrian refugees are resettled in the state.
“Your agency insists on resettling certain refugees from Syria in the near future. I must ask that you fulfill your statutory duty to conduct your activities ‘in close cooperation and advance consultation’ with the State of Texas,” state Health and Human Services Commissioner Chris Traylor wrote in a letter, which was first reported by the Houston Chronicle.
He told the nonprofit, which says it has resettled eight Syrian refugees in Texas, to respond by Monday.
The letter was addressed to Donna Duvin, executive director of the Dallas office, who told The Associated Press last week that her staff was prepared to receive refugees under current federal guidelines.
“We’re not aggressively going out and pursuing Syrian families, but if there are families who are approved for travel who are destined to come into the Dallas area, that we would be working with those families to the best of our abilities,” Duvin said.
Roughly 2,200 Syrian refugees have been allowed in the U.S. over the last four years. The Obama administration, which says the vetting process is thorough and can take up to two years, has outlined a goal of bringing 10,000 more Syrian refugees to the U.S. during the current budget year.
Nearly 200 Syrian refugees have arrived in Texas already this year, according to federal officials. A large number of Syrian refugees have also resettled in California and Michigan.
Meanwhile, a Syrian family settling in New Jersey is expected to arrive Monday, two weeks after Gov. Chris Christie told President Barack Obama that the state wouldn’t accept any more Syrian refugees.
The Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale of the Reformed Church says the family includes five children.