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Texas Loses Battle To Keep Refugees Out Of State

Texas will not be allowed to ban Syrian refugees from its state.

In December 2015, Texas filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government and the International Rescue Committee when it was told a six-member Syrian refugee family would be resettled in Dallas, the Independent reports.

Federal Judge David Godbey of Dallas’ U.S. District Court has thrown the case out, citing a failure to provide a "plausible claim for relief" by the plaintiff, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

"Today’s decision upholds and affirms America’s proud history in providing refuge for the world’s most vulnerable,” Jennifer Sime, Senior Vice President of U.S. Programs with the IRC, said in a statement on its website. “Refugees are fleeing violence and persecution and want nothing more than to live a safe and peaceful life."

“The court is unequivocal in validating the lawfulness of the refugee resettlement program and reaffirms Texas’ legacy in welcoming refugees," the statement continued. "The integrity and legacy of the refugee resettlement program will continue to be one of this country’s greatest strengths. We will continue to provide the services and support needed to make sure refugees, both in Texas and nationwide, have the support they need to rebuild their lives." 

A statement from Cecillia Wang, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project and lead counsel for the IRC, warns other states against trying to stop refugee resettlement.

“The court has tossed Texas’ case out of court and held that there is no legal merit to the state’s claims,” Wang’s statement on the ACLU’s website said. “This ruling is a strong rebuke of efforts to block refugee resettlement. It sends the clear message to other states that such attempts are not only un-American, they are contrary to the law and will fail in court.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton 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, according to the Independent.

Texas and Alabama are the only two states that have sued federal officials over refugee resettlement. Indiana and Oklahoma have publicly refused to accept Syrian refugees, but have not taken the matter to court.

Sources: Independent, International Rescue Committee, American Civil Liberties Union / Photo credit: Ned Colt/International Rescue Committee

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