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Syrians in Texas to Protest Governor’s Stand Against Unvetted Refugees

A group of students in Texas are joining with other activists to protest Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s order to stop the state from participating in the resettlement of Syrian refugees.

Abbott issued the order on Monday amid security concerns as more and more federal officials admit they cannot properly screen the refugees to ensure the safety of Americans.

Leaders of the Syrian People Solidarity Group are planning the protest for Sunday, according to the Austin American-Statesman. The Austin-based group says it aims to change the way people see Syrians. The event is planned for noon at the Governor’s Mansion in Austin.

“Governor Greg Abbott has stated that Texas will not be participating in the US resettlement [sic] plan for Syrian refugees (although he actually has no authority to make such a decision), citing concerns that no one can ‘guarantee that Syrian refugees will not be part of any terroristic activity,’” the group wrote in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. “Join us this Sunday at the Governor’s Mansion at noon to demand that Governor Abbott not use Islamophobic rhetoric when talking about state policy and that refugees from all countries should be welcome here!”

It is not clear whether state governors can refuse resettlement of these unvetted refugees in their states, but the governor can certainly direct state agencies involved in the programs and make demands of the federal government. Under federal law, states do have the authority and obligation to consult with government on issues of refugee resettlement. U.S. Representative Ted Poe introduced legislation this week to attempt to clarify the law and the states’ authority in order to avoid costly and lengthy litigation, Breitbart Texas reported.

“Let’s resolve this now with legislation, instead of having to wait for years to battle it out in court,” Poe said in an exclusive interview with Breitbart Texas. “This is an issue the states’ governors should be able to decide.”

On Monday, Breitbart Texas reported that Governor Abbott ordered the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s Refugee Resettlement Program to “not participate in the resettlement of any Syrian refugees in the State of Texas.”

“Given the tragic attacks in Paris and the threats we have already seen, Texas cannot participate in any program that will result in Syrian refugees – any one of whom could be connected to terrorism – being resettled in Texas,” Abbott said on Monday.

On Tuesday, Representative Lamar Smith released a three-minute YouTube video from a House Homeland Security hearing on the “Worldwide Threats and Homeland Security Challenges” that revealed how unprepared the heads of federal agencies tasked with protecting Americans are to handle the proposed influx of Syrian refugees, Breitbart Texas’ Lana Shadwick reported. During the hearing, Rep. Smith noted a “red flag” – the profile of these Syrian refugees does not meet the profile of the typical refugee family. He said these Syrian refugees are “young, single, males, as opposed to family members.”

On Wednesday, 5 “young, single, male” Syrians were arrested in Honduras carrying fake Greek passports. The Syrians were headed to Texas, Breitbart Texas Ildefonso Ortiz and Brandon Darby reported. The five men were between the ages of 23 and 33.

Later on Wednesday, Ortiz and Darby broke the news that eight Syrians were caught illegally entering the United States through the international bridge in Laredo, Texas. According to the sources, the Syrians traveled in two separate “family units” and authorities apprehended them at the Juarez Lincoln Bridge in Laredo, Texas, also known officially as Port of Entry 1.

One of the founders of the group planning Sunday’s protest, a 20-year-old Corpus Christi woman named Citrine Ghraowi, claimed that Abbott’s position “has stoked emotions,” the Statesman reported. She did not state what emotions were stoked by Syrians attempting to or actually crossing the U.S. border illegally, some with stolen passports. Nor did she say how the behavior of Syrian refugees in Europe are stoking emotions.

Ghraowi claims that since the Paris attacks, she has been harassed by people in her home community and told to “go back to her country,” the Statesman reported.

City Council Member Don Zimmerman drafted a resolution to direct the city manager to “fully comply with the sentiments expressed by” the governor. It would direct city resources not be used to “facilitate the resettlement of Syrian ‘refugees’ within the jurisdiction of the city of Austin.” Proving once again that Austin is a sanctuary city, the Statesman said the measure has little chance of passage.

On Tuesday, Gov. Abbott stepped up his campaign to block Syrian refugee resettlement in Texas, the Statesman reported. The governor went on national television to explain why this is important, not just for Texas, but for the nation.

“This is a situation where all of America is saying, `Mr. President, you have this wrong, you have an obligation to keep Americans safe,’” Abbott told Fox News on The Real Story. Abbott is working with 30 other state governors to try and convince the president to change his policy.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and is a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter: @BobPriceBBTX.

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