Texas officials are doubling-down on their opposition to Syrian refugees settling in the state. Help them and we may sue you and may terminate your funding from the state, state officials warn.
Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Chris Traylor sent letters and admonished agencies in the state who help Syrian refugees while refusing to cooperate with Texas officials, saying, “I must ask that you fulfill your statutory duty to conduct your activities ‘in close cooperation and advance consultation’ with the State of Texas pursuant to section 1522 of Title 8 of the United States Code.”
Traylor noted that “Texas has a proven record of providing humanitarian assistance to refugees fleeing persecution. Texas accepts approximately 10 percent of all refugees resettled in the United States — more than any other State.”
Citing the applicable federal statute, the Commissioner added that “until recently the United States was unable to accept more than a few hundred Syrian refugees per year because federal law excluded any refugees who had provided material support to a terrorist organization.” Traylor noted that President Obama unilaterally exempted Syrian refugees from the ban in order to increase the number of refugees to 10,000 this year.
The Commissioner warned, “If you remain unwilling to cooperate with the state in this matter, we strongly believe that a failure to cooperate with the State on this matter violates federal law and your contract with the state.”
He continued, “Failure by your organization to cooperate with the State of Texas as required by federal law may result in the termination of your contract with the state and other legal action.”
Traylor said Texas Governor Greg Abbott had advised him that his “foremost obligation is to keep citizens safe.” He explained, “The Governor believes that accepting refugees from Syria is incompatible with an absolute commitment to the safety of Texans because the President has shown the Governor no willingness to improve the security screenings of refugees from Syria, despite the abundant evidence that the screenings are ineffective.”
The commissioner noted that Abbott has responded to the security threat to Texans “by calling for a temporary halt to resettlement of any further refugees in Texas until concerns about the effectiveness of security screenings are addressed.” He urged the agencies to “cooperate with the State of Texas, as required by law, as we work together to implement Governor Abbott’s efforts to keep our doors open to refugees while at the same time keeping Texans secure.”
Governor Abbott said that he supports the action by Traylor, as well as taking legal action and cutting off state funding of these agencies in order to protect Texans.
Breitbart Texas’ Bob Price reported on November 16 that Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Texas will not allow Syrian refugees to be relocated into Texas. Abbott also called upon President Barack Obama to halt the importation of any additional Syrian refugees into the United States.
“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,” Governor Abbott said in a letter to President Obama.” He continued, “I am directing the Texas Health & Human Services Commission’s Refugee Resettlement Program to not participate in the resettlement of any Syrian refugees in the State of Texas. And I urge you, as President, to halt your plans to allow Syrians to be resettled anywhere in the United States.”
The Texas governor joins approximately 40 other state governors in taking action to stop the importation of potential terrorists. At least one of the Paris terrorists was a Syrian refugee who had recently entered Europe.
Emphasizing the potential danger to Texans and other Americans, Governor Abbott said after the Paris attacks that “Neither you nor any federal official can guarantee that Syrian refugees will not be part of any terroristic activity. As such, opening our door to them irresponsibly exposes our fellow Americans to unacceptable peril.”
On November 24, Breitbart Texas reported that a letter from the Obama Administration to Texas Governor Greg Abbott sought to reassure the governor that the government has a strong refugee vetting system for Syrian refugees. The letter was signed by the secretaries of State and Homeland Security.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson’s signature on the letter reassuring Governor Abbott that all is well comes in stark contrast to his testimony before the U.S. House Home and Security Committee in October. Representative Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) provided Breitbart Texas with a YouTube video segment of the Secretary’s testimony before the committee where Smith discussed the limitations of the screening process.
As reported by Breitbart Texas, after hearing Johnson’s answers Smith responded, “You are sorta having to take their word for it,” referring to the information Syrian refugees provide in the screening process.
Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as an associate judge and prosecutor. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2