Texas Sues Federal Government, Relief Agency To Keep Syrian Refugees Out Of State

| by Kathryn Schroeder
Syrian Refugees.Syrian Refugees.

Texas is suing the federal government and a refugee resettlement nonprofit to keep Syrian refugees out of the state.

The lawsuit was filed on Dec. 2 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, The Texas Tribune reports. It claims the federal government and International Rescue Committee, one of around 20 private nonprofits handling the resettlement of refugees in Texas, are violating federal law by resettling two Syrian families in Texas because they have not fulfilled the contractual obligation to consult with, and provide information to, state officials.

Under the Refugee Act of 1980, the federal government is required to “consult regularly with States, localities, and private nonprofit voluntary agencies concerning the sponsorship process and the intended distribution of refugees.”

The lawsuit argues that federal officials have violated such processes.

Texas also alleges the International Rescue Committee violated the provision in the act to work “in close cooperation and advance consultation” with the state, according to The Texas Tribune.

The lawsuit requests that a temporary injunction barring any Syrian refugees be enacted until terms of the act are met. One of the refugee families is set to arrive in Texas as soon as Dec. 4.

“The point of this lawsuit is not about specific refugees, it is about protecting Texans by ensuring that the federal government fulfills its obligation to properly vet the refugees and cooperate and consult with the state," Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement.

The International Rescue Committee declined to comment on the lawsuit directly.

"Refugees are victims of terror, not terrorists, and the families we help have always been welcomed by the people of Texas," a statement from the International Rescue Committee read. "The IRC acts within the spirit and letter of the law, and we are hopeful that this matter resolved soon."

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has voiced his opposition to accepting Syrian refugees.

"We're not going to accept any more refugees from this dangerous zone of Syria into the state of Texas," Abbott said in mid-November, according to NPR.

In the last three years, Texas has resettled 238 Syrian refugees, the second highest number in the country.

Sources: The Texas Tribune, NPR, U.S. Government Publishing Office / Photo credit: Freedom House/Flickr