News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Texas Loses Fight To Keep Syrian Refugees Out

Marjorie Kamys Cotera
Texas Tribune
Houston resident Jazmine Myluhu attends a rally to protest Gov. Abbott's decision on Syrian refugees, organized by The Syrian People Solidarity Group. Nov. 22, 2015.

Texas on Thursday lost its fight against the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the state, ending a months-long battle during which Syrian refugees continued to arrive.

Dealing the final blow to Gov. Greg Abbott’s effortto keep Syrian refugees out of the state, a federal judge dismissed Texas’ lawsuit against the federal government and a refugee resettlement agency. The state was seeking to block the arrival of people fleeing the war-torn country.

In an order dated Wednesday and released Thursday, Dallas-based U.S. District Judge David Godbey said the state did not have grounds to sue the federal government over this and failed to provide a “plausible claim” that a refugee resettlement nonprofit breached its contract.

The judge’s dismissal comes after several failed attempts by stateAttorney General Ken Paxton to block the arrival of Syrian refugees to the state. Texas first filed suit in December against the federal government and the International Rescue Committee — one of about 20 private nonprofits that have a state contract to resettle refugees in Texas — sayingthey were violating federal law by moving forward with the planned resettlement of Syrian refugees.

In the aftermath of terrorist attacks in Paris that left 130 dead, Texas’ Republican leaders raised concerns about the refugee vetting process. But the federal government warned Texas it did not have the power to reject Syrian refugees, and the International Rescue Committee's Dallas branch informed the state it would continue aiding Syrian refugees placed in Texas, including two families set to arrive in December.

Since the state went to court, 229 Syrian refugees have been resettled in Texas — 21 arrived in December and the rest arrived this year, according to the federal government's Refugee Processing Center.

Representatives for the attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The International Rescue Committee on Thursday celebrated the win. The judge’s dismissal “upholds and affirms” the United States’ history of providing refuge for those fleeing violence, Jennifer Sime, a senior vice president with the International Rescue Committee, said in a statement.

“The court is unequivocal in validating the lawfulness of the refugee resettlement program and reaffirms Texas’ legacy in welcoming refugees,” Sime added.

The Texas Tribune provided this story.