Federal Judge Denies Relief, Says Texas Can’t Point to Terrorists Posing as Refugees

Syrian Refugees
File Photo: Breitbart Texas/Merrill Hope

A federal judge in Dallas, Texas, has again rejected a call by the state of Texas to halt Syrian refugees from settling in the Lone Star State. Essentially, because the state has not been able to point their finger to a terrorist posing as a Syrian refugee in the state, Texas has not been able to obtain protection.

After the ruling, Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted, “Despite refugee arrested for plot to bomb Houston Galleria, Federal Judge Rejects Texas Bid to Block Refugees.”

Breitbart Texas reported on January 8th that an Iraqi refugee who was accused of providing material support to the Islamic State appeared in a Houston courtroom to hear the formal charges against him. The man, Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan, is accused of providing material support to a terrorist organization and of lying about his ties to terrorist groups on his application to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. According to officials, the man threatened to bomb the Houston Galleria and another Houston mall.

After Al Hardan’s arrest, Texas Governor Greg Abbott was quick to chastise the President and demand once again that he put a halt to the resettlement of refugees in the United States. The Governor has repeatedly condemned the President’s placing Americans in jeopardy until there is an effective vetting process in place.

In yesterday’s ruling, the judge held that Texas was not entitled to relief and a preliminary injunction because the state had not shown that it would suffer irreparable harm, the standard for obtaining a preliminary injunction.

On December 9th, the same U.S. district judge, Judge David C. Godbey, said the state’s application for a temporary restraining order (TRO) was “largely speculative hearsay” and that there was no showing of substantial threat of immediate injury, one of the requirements for a TRO. The judge wrote that the state “has failed to show by competent evidence that any terrorists actually have infiltrated the refugee program, much less that these particular refugees are terrorists intent on causing harm.”

In denying the application in early December, the judge “also acknowledge[d] that the kind of concrete information that would help in assessing that risk is the very sort of information the [Texas Health and Human Services] Commission complains the Federal Defendants should have – but did not – share with the Commission.” The judge said he “does not downplay the risks that terrorism, as a general matter, may pose,” but added, the court “must, however, assess the risk, if any, posed by these particular refugees.”

In denying the state’s request this week, the judge admitted there was potential peril for Texans. In his opinion, Judge Godbey wrote, “The Court does not deny that the Syrian refugees pose some risk. That would be foolish.”

Godbey added, “In our country, however, it is the federal executive that is charged with assessing and mitigating that risk, not the states and not the courts.” He said his action was justified because the court cannot “interfere with the executive’s discharge of its foreign affairs and national security duties based on a possibility of a harm.”

After Islamic State terrorists attacked citizens in Paris in November, Texas Governor Greg Abbott quickly called for a block to Syrian refugees settling in the state.

Breitbart Texas’ Bob Price reported on November 16 that Governor Abbott said Texas would fight the relocation of Syrian refugees to 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 was one of thirty 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.

On November 24, Breitbart Texas reported that a letter from the Obama Administration to Texas Governor 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 Abbott that all is well came in stark contrast to his testimony before the U.S. House Home and Security Committee in October. Representative Lamar Smith 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 application screening process.

Testimony given by some of President Obama’s top advisors on national security, including the Director of the FBI, U.S. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, and the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, revealed that screening these refuges is not likely to be effective.

Breitbart Texas reported in December that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission threatened to withhold state funding from any charitable organization that participates in Syrian refugee resettlement.

Breitbart Texas reported in early December that in spite of Texas Governor Abbott’s order, Syrian refugees were to begin arriving in at least two Texas cites. The Texas governor had ordered state agencies not to cooperate with federal refugee resettlement efforts.

The not irrational fear felt by Texas officials and Texans is that Islamic State terrorists will use the Syrian refugee situation to gain access to Americans and Texans and conduct more acts of terror.

As many as three terrorists in the attacks in Paris posed as refugees. As reported by Breitbart News, one of these terrorists was reportedly rescued by Greek authorities when a refugee boat sank off the coast of Greece in October.

Breitbart London reported today that an Islamic State commander was found living as a “refugee” in a rural German village.

Texas has become one of the major sites for relocating Syrian refugees.

According to a court filing by the attorney general’s office in December, Texas has approximately ten percent of all refugees resettled in the U.S., more than any other state.

In a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton said, “At a minimum, Texans deserve to know if the people moving into our communities and neighborhoods have a history of providing support to terrorists.”

“The court acknowledged the validity of our concerns,” he continued, “but ruled existing federal law does not grant states a sufficient voice, which would effectively leave it to Congress to make necessary changes. We are currently evaluating our options moving forward.”

Lana Shadwick is a writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and associate judge. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2