Syrians in Texas Say Abbott Cannot Deny Refugees

Syrians in Texas
AP/Darko Vojinovic

HOUSTON, Texas – Governor Greg Abbott’s promise to not help Syrian refugees settle in Texas is being called by some in the Houston Syrian community “un-American.” They are claiming the Governor has no constitutional right to block Syrian refugees.

“Governors do not have constitutional power to exclude an individual from their state territories,” Mana Yegani, an immigration attorney, told KHOU-CBS11 in Houston. The attorney claims there are security checks in place “They get fingerprinted, they’re located in certain areas and the government can keep track of them.”

Governor 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.” That is completely within his powers as governor of Texas.

As to the attorney’s claim of security checks, fingerprints are not background checks. They enable a fingerprint to be tracked back to a person, but they do nothing to verify whether a person is a member of a terrorist organization or if they are an Islamic extremist intent on doing to Texas what fellow Syrian refugees did to Paris. It certainly does nothing to reveal a person’s location.

As for the government’s ability to track people they have allowed to enter the U.S., one need only look at America’s visa overstay program to see how well we can expect that to work.

Texas received 213 Syrians who resettled to Texas in 2014, according to the state’s numbers reported by KHOU. 102 of those settled in Texas’ largest city, Houston. This number does not include any Syrians who have entered Texas illegally by crossing the Mexican border.

In September, Breitbart Texas’ Ildefonso Ortiz reported on the arrest of a Syrian woman who was attempting to illegally enter the U.S. using the passport of a family member. The passport had been used to fly from Lebanon to Germany. She and her companion then flew to Cancun, Mexico and traveled via land transportation to the U.S. border at Reynosa, Mexico. The next day, the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a motion to dismiss all charges “with prejudice” and stated the move came “in the national interest.”

In January, Breitbart Texas reported claims by then Texas Governor Rick Perry about the record numbers of illegal aliens crossing the border who originated from terror hotbed countries.  “We have record high numbers of other than Mexicans being apprehended at the border,” Perry said on the Fox and Friends morning show. “These are people that are coming from states like Syria that have substantial connections back to terrorist regimes and terrorist operations. So we’re seeing record, historic high numbers of these individuals being apprehended.”

Syrians in Houston told KHOU that Abbott’s actions will put an undue stress on the non-profit community who might have to pick up the slack if taxpayer dollars are not made available.

“Governor Abbott’s message is he wants to create a hostile environment for refugees that have already experienced so much,” Shiren Jasser, president of the Houston Chapter of the Syrian American Council, told KHOU.

“It’s very un-American,” Jasser continued. “This is a country built by refugees and immigrants, and we need to remember that.” She seemed to ignore the fact that from a historical perspective, immigrants and refugees were primarily supported by family members, members of their ethnic community and from non-profit organizations.

She claimed talk of turning away refugees just makes it harder on those who are here. She did not comment on how raising fears and legitimate security concerns related to bringing in more Syrian refugees who cannot be vetted could make it more difficult on the community already in America.

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