Texas loses battle with US government to bar Syrian refugees from living in the state
A judge has thrown out a lawsuit from Texas which sought to ban Syrian refugees from the state.
Federal judge David Godbey said that the plaintiff, Texas Health and Human Services Commission, had failed to state a “plausible claim for relief”.
Texas sued the US government and nonprofit organization International Rescue Committee (IRC) in December after it was notified that Dallas was to welcome six refugees - one family - from Syria.
“Today’s decision upholds and affirms America’s proud history in providing refuge for the world’s most vulnerable,” said Jennifer Sime, senior vice president of US programs with the IRC in astatement. ”Refugees are fleeing violence and persecution and want nothing more than to live a safe and peaceful life.”
Cecilia Wag, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said the ruling sends a clear messageto other states that such lawsuits “are not only un-American, they are contrary to the law and will fail in court.“
Texas and Alabama are the only two states to sue federal officials over refugee concerns, but states including Indiana and Oklahoma have publicly refused to accept Syrians too.
The Lone Star state argued that under the Refugee Act of 1980, the US government is required to “consult regularly” with state officials on the refugee sponsorship and relocation before they are placed in new homes. It also sued the IRC, claiming it had breached its contract with the state.
The full story of a family of six Syrian refugees, who were supposed to arrive in Dallas on 3 December, is below.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who spoke against president Obama’s plan to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees into the US, said he is “disappointed” with the ruling.
“We are considering our options moving forward to guarantee the safety of Texans from domestic and foreign threats," he said.
Lieutenant governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, added in a statement: “Texas has a right to know who the federal government is bringing to Texas, where they are being placed and what they are doing to guarantee the safety of all Texans.”
Both Mr Paxton and Mr Patrick said they were concerned about Isis-affiliated terrorists “exploiting” the refugee process to enter the US, and had asked for more personal information to be released about the incoming Syrians before they were sent to the state.
Federal officials said in January that Texas had failed to prove the refugees are a threat to the public, and rejected a motion from the state for a preliminary injunction blocking more refugees.
The IRC responded that the state government should not “conflate terrorists with the Syrian refugees who are seeking sanctuary”.
“Apart from swimming the Atlantic Ocean, the refugee resettlement program is the most difficult way to enter the United States,“ the IRC said in a statement on 1 December. ”Refugees go through rigorous security screenings.”