The arrival of refugees in the Lone Star State, most particularly Syrian refugees, has been a source of consternation for Texans and the state’s Governor. Activists pushed back against Governor Greg Abbott’s order to stop the state from helping to resettle Syrian refugees. The Texas attorney general filed suit against the federal government. Now the Texas Senate has voted to eradicate the State’s refugee office.
On Monday, the Texas Senate voted to abolish the Office of Immigration and Refugee Affairs and the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Immigration and Refugees. The Senate passed the bill along political party lines by a vote of 20-10.
The author of Senate Bill 260, Senator Don Huffines (R-Dallas) says “the federal refugee program is broken” and his bill “will keep Texans safe by helping to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of Texas.” The legislation codifies Governor Greg Abbott’s decision to withdraw Texas from the federal refugee resettlement program.
Breitbart Texas reported in November 2015 that Governor Abbott ordered the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s Refugee Resettlement Program to “not participate in the resettlement of any Syrian refugees in the State of Texas.” Abbott sent a letter to then-President Obama saying, “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.” He also urged President Obama “to halt your plans to allow Syrians to be resettled anywhere in the United States.”
The Governor of the Lone Star sent the letter to Obama after the deadliest attack on a western city since 9/11. More than 150 died, and hundreds were wounded after terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015. It was the deadliest violence to strike France since World War II.
Breitbart News reported that terrorists calmly executed almost 100 at the Bataclan concert hall. Suicide bombers detonated bombs in a bar near the Stade de France stadium where a soccer game was being played and shot people while they were dining in a Paris restaurant. Just two months prior, the mayor of Paris had welcomed Arabic-speaking migrants with open arms. After the attack, French President Francois Hollande attempted to close the country’s borders. The attack was planned, at least in part, in the ISIS-controlled city of Deir ez-Zor reported Breitbart. The Paris attack mastermind and six of the jihadis posed as refugees in order to enter Europe.
In a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas, Senator Huffines said, “Washington must listen to Texas and give our elected leaders a voice in all aspects of the refugee resettlement process. The Governor and the Legislature have an obligation to keep Texans safe, and it’s one that we take very seriously. Texans have big hearts and are a generous people, but we must stop refugee resettlement until the program makes sense for our state, and our people.”
Senator Huffines said he helped refugees resettle in Texas in the 1980s when his wife was director of the Catholic Charities of Dallas refugee program. He added, “I have toured UN refugee camps. I’m deeply familiar with the struggle refugees face, but I am also keenly aware that the program is outdated and built for the Cold War, not the war that terrorists are striving to bring back to U.S. shores. We will not allow our generosity to be exploited by those who would kill and maim innocent Texans.”
The author of Senate Bill 260 says the legislation “gives the Texas Legislature a voice in the decision to reenter the [resettlement] program, when and if it is appropriate to do so.”
The next step will be for the Texas House to consider the measure.