Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said during a recent summit on the city’s economy, its workforce, and its future, that he believes welcoming refugees is crucial to Dallas becoming a “global city.” The Democratic mayor made the statement after being asked about “hosting refugees” and “bringing people inside” as “one of the building blocks of a revitalized town.”
Rawlings made these statements during a recent “City Makers Summit” hosted by The Atlantic and JP Morgan Chase. The summit was held on March 10th and was the third of such events by the publication. Other events have been held in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco.
During the interview with The Atlantic’s Washington editor-at-large Steve Clemons, Clemons told Rawlings, “You are a believer in not only big tent in-town, but big tent out-of-town, bringing refugees in, and I know that is controversial.”
The Atlantic editor then referred to a writer who “talks about hosting refugees and bringing people inside as one of the building blocks of a revitalized town.” He asked Rawlings, “So where does that fit in your equation of building a healthier Dallas?”
Rawlings answered, “It’s not only a metric of being a global city. To me, it’s an important attribute.”
The Dallas mayor went on to describe seeing four little girls at Christmas, one from Malaysia, and the others from Syria, Burma, and Guatemala. They were playing and they were all on their cell phones. “This is what Dallas is going to be,” he said. “These kids are going to make it.” Rawlings added, “I want more of that.”
Clemons noted that this was a controversial viewpoint.
Rawlings responded, “Being scared is a natural ability, but God gave us the power to choose courage and our brains to figure out how you balance that. I see it as a sign of strength.”
AtlanticLive posted a YouTube video of Rawlings’ speech at the City Makers Summit.
— AtlanticLIVE (@Atlantic_LIVE) March 11, 2016
The Democrat mayor in the democratic/”Blue” city called himself “a pretty progressive guy” and appeared to be quite proud of it.
Rawlings was certainly excited to see President Obama the next day. He tweeted the following on March 11 at @Mike_Rawlings:
— Mayor Mike Rawlings (@Mike_Rawlings) March 12, 2016
The City Makers Summit event in Dallas, publicized in The Atlantic, was advertised as follows:
Dallas has been thriving, ranking nationally for high levels of business expansion and employment growth. New technology and energy companies have relocated to Dallas, paving the way for innovation and startups in a bustling entrepreneurial sector. Despite the city’s bright future, many in the city still live in poverty while middle-skill jobs in the city go unfilled, complicating Dallas’ success story. Can the tech sector help narrow the skills gap? How can local firms create effective pipelines for hiring to ensure that everyone can participate in Dallas’ growing economy?
The issue of refugees in Texas, like in states elsewhere, has been controversial. The issue came to a head in November after the terrorist attacks in Paris.
As reported by Breitbart Texas in mid-November, Texas Governor Greg Abbott called upon President Barack Obama to halt the importation of any additional Syrian refugees into the U.S. He said he would not allow Syrian refugees to be relocated into Texas in the wake of the Paris terrorist attack. He wrote in his letter to the president:
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. Effective today, 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 joined other state’s 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, Abbott said in his letter, “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.”
Abbott did not actually exclude anyone from coming to Texas; rather, he ordered the Texas Health and Human Service Commission’s Refugee Resettlement Program “not to participate in the resettlement of any Syrian refugees in the State of Texas.”
Syrians in Texas responded that the Governor’s actions were “un-American,” as reported by Breitbart Texas. They also claimed he had no constitutional right to block Syrian refugees.
The State of Texas doubled-down in late November and officials ended up filing a lawsuit.
Breitbart Texas reported that Texas officials issued a warning in late November. Help them and we may sue you and may terminate your state funding, they said.
Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Chris Traylor sent letters and admonished state agencies who help Syrian refugees but refuse 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.”
On November 24, Breitbart Texas reported that a letter from the Obama Administration to 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 representations in 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, as reported by Breitbart Texas. 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.
After hearing Johnson’s answers Rep. Smith responded, “You are sorta having to take their word for it,” referring to the information Syrian refugees provide in the screening process, as reported by Breitbart Texas.
In early December, the Texas attorney general filed a lawsuit to block the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Texas. Citing the Refugee Act of 1980, Attorney General Ken Paxton took the action to stop the federal government from placing Syrian refugees with non-profit organizations in Texas, as reported by Breitbart Texas. The act requires the federal government to consult with state authorities.