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Federal Failure Refuels State Attorney General's Push To Bar Refugees

Marjorie Kamys Cotera
Texas Tribune
Despite Texas leaders' mulitple attempts to halt refugee resettlement, several state organizations are welcoming immigrants.

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Gov. Greg Abbott asks for emergency status for tornado-stricken counties; downtown Dallas residents are worried about neighborhood safety; a teen wants to spend $170,000 for his birthday; and more.

Attorney General Ken Paxton asked Dallas-based U.S. District Judge David C. Godbey on Tuesday to bar resettlement of Syrian refugees in Texas. His reasoning: U.S. officials failed to notify “Texas leaders about the resettlement of a seven-person family at least seven days in advance of their arrival — contrary to a federal court’s order, according to the attorney general’s office,” The Texas Tribune reported. “The government instead informed the judge about the resettlement the day the family arrived in Houston on Jan. 22.”

Godbey denied the state’s previous request for “emergency court-imposed resettlement restrictions,” the Associated Press reported, but he did tell federal officials to provide an advance notice of seven days.

“Paxton’s office has fought the federal government in court for nearly two months over the refugees with little success,” The Tribune reported. About 20 nonprofits in Texas are working to resettle refugees, and 215 were resettled last year. [Texas Tribune, AP]

  • Gov. Greg Abbott asked President Obama Tuesday to declare a state of emergency for North Texas counties affected by the Dec. 26 storms.The Dallas Morning News reported: “If granted, affected residents in counties declared for “individual assistance” could be eligible for grants and low-interest disaster loans. If counties are granted “public assistance” status, that could open up funding to local governments and other groups.” Read Abbott’s letter to Obama. [Dallas Morning News]

  • Despite crime rates dropping in downtown Dallas, residents are worried.The Dallas Morning News reported Monday night: “More than 200 people crowded into the bar of The Woolworth restaurant near Elm and Akard streets to discuss public safety with police and city officials.” The meeting was organized “after a woman was beaten in a carjacking Thursday in the Davis Building’s garage on Main Street.” Some residents were skeptical of the crime rates presented at the forum —a 10 percent drop overall from this time last year —because DART incidents were excluded. Here’s the bright side. [Dallas Morning News]


  • An Austin teenager is spending $170,000 for his 17th birthday celebration this week. What could he possibly be planning? To build a home for a family in need. Taylor Thompson partnered with Austin’s Habitat for Humanity to shelter a deserving family and to honor his late mother, who died in 2014 of breast cancer. The Texas Standard reported: “It takes $85,000 to build one Habitat home. When people heard Taylor was doing this to celebrate his mother's life, they pledged enough for more than one house. Now, he's looking to build two homes. Kendra Scott, the Austin-based jeweler, is also hosting a fundraiser for Taylor's cause.” [Texas Standard]


  • Have you noticed swarms of blue butterflies clustered around Dallas landmarks? There are 400 of them scattered among Uptown, downtown Dallas, Bishop Arts, Trinity Groves and Deep Ellum. They are part of a global art installation called Swarm: The Migration. Dallas CultureMap reported: “Local photographer Peyton Hayslip was one of the 200 photographers chosen to participate, representing not only Dallas but the entire state of Texas.” The butterflies will stay in town for about four weeks and then will “migrate” to another location. [CultureMap]

Here’s background on the project:

“Started in 2014 by Manhattan-based artist Tasha Lewis, the project has been seen in Europe, Africa, Asia, and even Antarctica. Lewis explains it as a social experiment designed to bring together artists from all over the world and as a continuation of her personal investigation of ephemeral street art. The project will involve the "migration" of 6,200 butterflies divided across 16 different regions, with each region having nine to 20 collaborators (except for Antarctica, where the butterflies will remain with one organization for seven months).”