Editor’s Note: This article has been updated at the bottom of the article with a response from the Office of the Texas Attorney General.
The Attorney General of Texas has withdrawn his request for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the federal government to block them from placing a group of Syrian refugees in Texas. The move comes after Attorney General Ken Paxton claimed the federal government provided as yet unspecified information about the refugees who are set to arrive in Texas.
Breitbart Texas asked officials in the Office of the Attorney General to provide information as to what type of information was requested from the federal government about these Syrian refugees and what information was provided by the federal government in response. Breitbart Texas also asked if the attorney general is confident that these Syrian refugees have been properly screened and pose no threat to the security of Texas and Texans. At press time, a response from the AG’s office has not yet been provided. Breitbart Texas will post the response from the AG’s office if it is received.
While Texas has withdrawn the TRO request to prevent Syrians from being resettled in Texas, it will continue with the lawsuit to force the federal government to comply with its statutory requirement to consult with the states on refugee resettlement. The lawsuit was filed by the attorney general on behalf of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, as was previously reported by Breitbart Texas. The commission had been ordered by Texas Governor Greg Abbott not to participate in any federal resettlement of Syrian refugees.
“Texas shouldn’t have to go to court to require Washington to comply with federal law regarding its duties to consult with Texas in advance,” Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. “Our state will continue legal proceedings to ensure we get the information necessary to adequately protect the safety of Texas residents. While we remain concerned about the federal government’s overall refugee vetting process, we must ensure that Texas has the seat at the table that the Refugee Act requires.”
As a result of the lawsuit, the federal government revealed that 21 refugees are expected to be delivered to Texas next week, according to KERA News. Those refugees will include twelve children between the ages of two and fifteen, four parents, two grandparents and a Syrian woman whose mother currently lives in Houston. Those refugees are scheduled to be placed in Dallas and Houston.
The federal government is arguing that Texas’ argument is “without merit” and says it has met its obligation to “provide advance consultation regarding individual resettlement decisions.”
Abbott’s order to block Syrian refugees in Texas came shortly after the terrorist attack in Paris. This week’s terror attack in San Bernardino, California, where a woman who had been screened by counterterrorism group in the Department of Homeland Security prior to receiving a visa participated in the mass murder of 14 people, brought even more emphasis on the need to properly screen refugees.
Texas leaders, including Governor Abbott and Attorney General Paxton have expressed concern over the federal government’s ability to properly screen these refugees.
Approximately 30 governors from around the nation have joined with Governor Abbott in fighting the federal government who themselves have said they cannot legitimately screen these Syrian refugees. In November, Breitbart Texas’ Lana Shadwick reported on testimony given by some of President Obama’s top advisors on national security who admitted that screening these refuges is not likely to be effective.
On Wednesday, the Texas Tribune reported that 242 Syrian refugees have been resettled in Texas over the past three years. The attorney general’s press release said that historically represents about 10 percent of the total number of Syrians being taken in by the United States. If the federal government plans on accepting 10,000 Syrian refugees this year, that would mean as many as 1,000 refugees could be headed to the Lone Star State.
Paxton said the federal government has been asking contractor agencies to take the refugees in Texas and withhold “even basic information that would help Texas’s security concerns.” This was the basis for the federal lawsuit that is still in progress.
Breitbart Texas reached out to Governor Abbott’s office for a reaction to the TRO withdrawal. A response was not immediately available.
UPDATE: The following was received from Katherine Wise, Deputy Press Secretary for Attorney General Ken Paxton:
As a result of our lawsuit, the Obama Administration informed us for the first time that these specific refugees pose – in their determination – the lowest-level security risk to Texans. While we continue to have concerns about the federal government’s screening process, we appear to have a seat at the table for the first time, but we will continue to press the Court to ensure we can voice those concerns.
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.