Texas Reps Move to Protect States’ Rights to Refuse Refugees

Two members of the Texas congressional delegation filed a bill designed to protect the right of states to reject refugees.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Representative Ted Poe (R-TX) jointly introduced the State Refugee Security Act of 2017. The bill, filed jointly in the House and Senate, mandates that federal refugee resettlement officials provide at least a 21-day notice to states receiving refugees. During that period, the governor can certify that the federal government did not provide adequate assurances that the refugee does not present a security risk. Upon receiving that certification from the state, the federal government is prohibited from placing that refugee, or refugees, in that state, according to information obtained by Breitbart Texas.

“The first obligation of the president is to keep this country safe as commander in chief,” Sen. Cruz said in a joint statement with Rep. Poe. “I am encouraged that, unlike the previous administration, one of President Trump’s top priorities is to defeat radical Islamic terrorism.”

“To augment the efforts of the new administration, this legislation I have introduced will reinforce the authority of the states and governors to keep their citizens safe,” the senator continued. “I am honored to work with Rep. Poe on this legislation and I hope that Congress will pass it and send it to the president’s desk.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott informed the federal government in November 2015 that, in the wake of the Paris terrorist attack, Texas would refuse to accept any Syrian refugees if the federal government could not certify they were not a threat to the people of Texas, Breitbart Texas reported. “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.

“Congress must take action to support states that refuse to participate in the refugee resettlement program because of serious security concerns,” Rep. Poe said after filing the House version of the bill. “The Obama Administration’s open door policy has totally disregarded the wishes of state governors who have legitimate security concerns about letting unvetted refugees in their states. Although we expect vetting to increase in the new Administration, states should still have an opt-out if the security of the program is not guaranteed.”

“The reality is that ISIS has vowed to attack America, and we already know that several recent terror attacks in Europe were carried out by individuals who came in disguised as a Syrian refugee. It is dangerous and irresponsible to let thousands of refugees in when even FBI Director Comey admitted we cannot properly vet them,” Poe explained. “Until the federal government can conduct thorough security screenings and confirm that there are no security risks, Congress should empower states to be able to protect their citizens by refusing to participate in this program.”

Poe filed a similar bill in November 2015, following Governor Abbott’s declaration. “In the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks over half of State governors including Governor Abbott of Texas have told the Administration that they will not accept Syrian refugees,” Representative Ted Poe explained in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas at that time. “One of the Paris attackers was disguised as a Syrian refugee, so governors are concerned about bringing thousands of Syrians into their states.”

Texas leads the nation in the resettlement of Syrian refugees, despite the protestations of Governor Abbott, and a lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. In October 2016, Breitbart News reported the country was on track to resettle more than 150,000 refugees during fiscal year 2017. This is nearly double the 84,995 resettled during all of FY 2016.

President Donald Trump pledged repeatedly during his campaign to implement “extreme vetting” of refugees from countries with direct links to radical Islamic terrorism. Breitbart Texas reported on Monday that President Trump’s promise to halt refugee resettlement from nations that may have been compromised by Islamic terrorism may be coming shortly.

The new bill, filed this week by Sen. Cruz and Rep. Poe has also been co-sponsored by Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL).

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


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