On November 16, Texas Governor Greg Abbot sat outside of the Governor’s Mansion, surrounded by local and national press. With the French flag draped over a balcony railing, Abbott requested a moment of silence to honor the victims of the Paris attacks. When the formalities were over, he informed the members of the press that he had written a letter to President Obama. The letter was to inform the Commander in Chief that Texas will not be accepting any Syrian refugees, should the Federal government decide to relocate some of them there.
To the international community, the governor may sent something of a mixed message. While honoring the victims of an ISIS-perpetrated terrorist attack in Paris, Abbott denied Syrian refugees ? who are likewise victims of ISIS ? from resettling in Texas.
Why? Perhaps anticipating controversy, Abbott didn’t hesitate to explain his reasoning. What principally concerns the Government of Texas are telling the good guys from the bad guys.
“They do not have the capability to distinguish between those refugees who can pose as terrorist, and those who may be innocent,” Abbott said, “and until the United States develops that capability it is essential that we do first things first, and that is and that is to keep the people of the state of Texas safe.”
Abbott joins other prominent Texas conservatives, like presidential candidate Ted Cruz, in expressing doubt over the Federal Government’s ability to detect would-be terrorists hiding amongst the Syrian refugees.
Cedar Park representative Tony Dale takes things step further, insinuating that the state’s own laws on gun ownership could make it easy for terrorists to obtain firearms. “While the Paris attackers used suicide vests and grenades it is clear that firearms also killed a large number of innocent victims,” Dale wrote, “Can you imagine a scenario were [sic] a refugees [sic] is admitted to the United States, is provided federal cash payments and other assistance, obtains a driver’s license and purchases a weapon and executes an attack?”
This month, the state sued the Federal Government and a refugee group in an attempt to delay the resettlement. They also filed a restraining order against several Syrian families due to arrive in the state before January.
On December 9, U.S. District Judge David Godbey dismissed the state’s argument that “terrorists could have infiltrated the Syrian refugees and could commit acts of terrorism in Texas,” calling it “largely speculative hearsay.”
Considering the sheer volume of people displaced by the Syrian civil war, the Federal Government’s “vetting process” ? which will allow a mere 10,000 refugees into the country ? is rather discriminating by definition. Refugees are referred to the United States by a branch of the United Nations. They are placed by non-governmental agencies like World Relief and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops ? and it’s all based on pre-existing family ties and employment opportunities.
In other words, Texas doesn’t have a case against the Federal Government because they’re approaching the issue from a combative perspective which ignores, among other things, many of the known facts about how these new immigrants will be resettled inside the United States.
The immigration attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union, the legal entity representing the refugee group that was sued by the state of Texas, have expressed praise for the judge’s decision.
“The refugee families on their way here can be resettled without delay,” said Rebecca L. Robertson, the legal and policy director for ACLU Texas. “We are pleased that the court refused to let the state of Texas interfere with humanitarian aid to people fleeing war and violence.”