The State of Texas late Wednesday sued the federal government and a private refugee settlement agency to block plans to resettle Syrian refugees in the state as early as Friday, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
“The Federal Government and the (International Rescue) Committee have left Texas uninformed about refugees that could well pose a security risk to Texans, without any say in the process of resettling these refugees, ” said the federal lawsuit.
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The refugee aid organization ‘DFW International ‘says a family of Syrian refugees will board a plane in Jordan Wednesday evening on their way to Dallas, where they plan to settle in the suburb of Richardson, where DFW International President Anne Marie Weiss-Armush says they have relatives currently living. They are the first Syrians to be resettled in Texas since Governor Greg Abbott ordered that no Syrian refugees be sent to the state, warning that they could be a terrorist threat. Abbott took action November 16, following the terrorist attack in Paris that killed 130 people.
“I believe the State Department has decided to use this case as a test, ” Weiss-Armush told News Radio 1200 WOAI‘s Michael Board. “Using this family as a way to stand up to the governor.”
Weiss-Armush says the refugees receive aid money from the federal government and from private agencies but not from the State of Texas, so she says Abbott will not be able to block the settlement of these Syrians or any other refugees in Texas.
The family was assisted by the International Rescue Committee, which is one of nine federal resettlement contractors with State Department agreements.
“The International Rescue Committee hopes that Texas will continue to honor this long standing tradition and its commitment to the U.S. Constitution, and would welcome the opportunity to meet with Governor Abbott and other state officials to discuss the resettlement of Syrian refugees, ” the group said in a statement.
“The IRC understands Governor Abbott’s commitment to the safety of the people of Texas. There is no doubt that what happened on the streets of Paris was horrific and the actions of a terrorist organization. However, it is important not to conflate terrorists with the Syrian refugees who are seeking sanctuary in the United States.”
Weiss-Armush says the family that is coming to Texas has spent three years in a refugee camp in Jordan ‘working through’ the complicated process of receiving political asylum in the United States.
She said it is uncertain what the state could do to block the resettlement.
“Does he have a plan to manipulate rules so it will take longer for the funding to reach them, ” she asked.
The lawsuit, which was filed in Federal Court in Dallas by the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, asks a judge to block ‘any and all activities of the defendants regarding placement of Syrian refugees in Texas’ until after all groups have ‘fulfilled their statutory requirements’ to first consult with state officials .