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Texas Sues To Prevent Syrian Refugee Resettlement

Texas Governor Greg Abbott (Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Texas has filed a lawsuit against the federal government and a nonprofit refugee resettlement group. It’s an effort to stave off resettling more Syrian refugees within state borders without explicitly being informed and the refugees being thoroughly vetted.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas against the United States of America,Secretary of State John Kerry, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of Refugee Resettlement and the International Rescue Committee, a nonprofit that works to resettle refugees.

In the suit, the state alleges that the U.S. government and the nonprofit refugee resettlement group violated federal law by working to resettle two Syrian families expected to arrive in Texas within the next few weeks. It also argues the groups did not consult with or provide information to state officials as required by their contractual agreement.

Governor Greg Abbott has been calling for resettlement efforts to halt and for additional information to be provided about refugees already in the state in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks that left 130 people dead. The terrorist group ISIS has claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks which targeted a large concert hall, a soccer stadium and restaurants and open patios.

In the days following the attacks, Abbott joined more than two dozen governors who vowed to close down state borders to Syrian refugees. But just last week, the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement warned the governors that they cannot reject refugees based on religion or countries of origin. To do so would be breaking federal law.

- Ryan Poppe, Texas Public Radio