Texas Bishops Oppose Governor’s Curb on Refugee Settlement

Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks to reporters outside of the West Wing of the White House after meeting US President Donald Trump on March 24, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Mandel Ngan (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

A number of Catholic bishops in Texas have criticized a decision by Governor Greg Abbott to place a moratorium on refugee settlements in the state, urging the Catholic governor to rethink his position.

In a joint statement Friday, the Texas Bishops’ Conference called Gov. Abbott’s decision “deeply discouraging and disheartening.”

This decision is “simply misguided,” the bishops declared. “It denies people who are fleeing persecution, including religious persecution, from being able to bring their gifts and talents to our state and contribute to the general common good of all Texans.”

“The refugees who have already resettled in Texas have made our communities even more vibrant,” the bishops added. “As Catholics, an essential aspect of our faith is to welcome the stranger and care for the alien.”

As Breitbart News reported last Friday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) became the first U.S. governor to halt refugee resettlement in his state, “a move that comes as the state has been inundated over the last three decades with mass immigration.”

In a letter explaining his decision, Abbott noted that Texas is “one of the most welcoming states for refugees seeking to escape dangers abroad,” and that over the last decade Texas has received more refugees than any other state.

At the same time, “Texas has been left by Congress to deal with disproportionate migration issues resulting from a broken federal immigration system,” Abbott declared. In May 2019 alone, some “100,000 migrants were apprehended crossing this state’s southern border.”

“Texas continues to have to deal with the consequences of an immigration system that Congress has failed to fix,” he said.

Along with the joint statement, a number of Texas bishops issued individual messages regarding Abbott’s decision.

Dallas Bishop Edward Burns said he was “greatly disappointed” to learn of the governor’s “unfortunate” decision to no longer allow refugees to resettle in Texas, noting the state’s “long history in working to resettle those fleeing dangerous, often life-and-death situations in their own countries.”

For his part, Fort Worth Bishop Michael Olson said in a statement that he “strongly and respectfully” disagrees with the move and urges the Governor “to reconsider his decision.”

The bishop also noted that not taking in more refugees would deprive programs such as Catholic Charities of needed funding.

“If Governor Abbott stands by this decision, current refugee support services will have to replace the lost federal refugee funds with local dollars currently dedicated to social supports services such as work programs and out of poverty programs,” he said.

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