The feds have decided to send more Syrian refugees to Texas, just two days after it sued the federal government and a refugee resettlement nonprofit, alleging that both were violating the Refugee Act of 1980. So far, 31 states have expressed opposition to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in their regions, following the Nov. 13 terror attacks in Paris, which claimed the lives of 130 innocent people, and wounded countless others.
Filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton, claims in the lawsuit that “the federal government and the International Rescue Committee — one of about 20 private nonprofits that have a state contract to resettle refugees in Texas — are violating federal law by moving forward with the planned resettlement of two Syrian families,” reports The Texas Tribune.(1)
The lawsuit states that the feds and resettlement groups “have not fulfilled their contractual obligations to consult with, and provide information to, state officials” as required under the Refugee Act of 1980, which compels the government to “‘consult regularly’ with the state regarding the placement of refugees.”
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) violated another provision of the act which mandates that resettlement groups work “in close cooperation and advance consultation” with the state.
Feds still planning to send more Syrian refugees to Texas
Despite the lawsuit, 21 Syrian refugees are scheduled to head to Texas next week, pending a ruling from US District Judge David C. Godbey, a George W. Bush appointee who is overseeing the case. A Syrian family of six was originally scheduled to fly into Dallas on Friday, but their travel plans were briefly halted in the wake of the lawsuit, according to the Houston Chronicle.(2)
Legal experts say the lawsuit filed by Texas will likely “fail because the federal government has exclusive authority over foreign affairs.”
The six-member Syrian family will remain in New York City over the weekend, and pending approval by Judge Godbey, will fly into Dallas on Monday, reports the Chron. Another six-person Syrian family will fly into Houston that same day and then nine more Syrian refugees will also be brought into Houston next week.
The Chron reports:
“Overall, the 21 refugees include 12 children between the ages of 2 and 15, as well as two grandparents, according to the court filing. Four of the other seven refugees are women.
“If the plan is allowed by the judge overseeing the lawsuit, it will mark a dramatic increase in the number of Syrian refugees placed in Texas in defiance of Gov. Greg Abbott’s opposition due to security concerns.
“In addition to ramping up the pressure on the state, the plan also could shield the refugees from a media frenzy at the airport and reduce the risk of a sticky situation of a ruling on the lawsuit coming out while refugees are in the air.”
Lawsuit intended to protect Texans
Attorney General Paxton says, “The point of this lawsuit is not about specific refugees, it is about protecting Texans by ensuring that the federal government fulfills its obligation to properly vet the refugees and cooperate and consult with the state.”
The IRC countered, “Refugees are victims of terror, not terrorists, and the families we help have always been welcomed by the people of Texas. The IRC acts within the spirit and letter of the law, and we are hopeful that this matter [is] resolved soon.”
Meanwhile, in the Texas capital, city council members struck down a proposal that would have blocked spending on providing assistance to Syrian refugees in Austin. Presented by Council Member Don Zimmerman, the measure would have prevented Austinites’ tax dollars from being used to help resettle Syrian refugees.(3)
Austin strikes down proposal to restrict taxpayer money for Syrian refugees
Austin’s Public Safety Commission voted against the measure 2-1, calling it “xenophobic.” However, Zimmerman defended his proposal, questioning whether the US government really has the capability to vet all refugees for potential ties to terrorism.
In support of the proposal were several law enforcement officials, many of whom have had direct experience working with security clearances and international security, reported Liberty.news. Some expressed frustration over the difficulty in trying to identify individuals seeking asylum at the Texas border.
Another concern raised by Council Member Zimmerman is that the city seemingly has no clue as to how and where funds allocated towards Syrian refugees is actually spent. “Where is the tax money going?” Zimmerman asked. “We’re subsidizing a bunch of these non-profit organizations, but don’t know where the money is going.”