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Texas Goes To Court Over The Resettling Of Syrian Refugees In The State

Attorney General Ken Paxton argues the federal government and the non-profit groups that coordinate the arrival of the refugees have to provide more information about them.


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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton contends the federal government and the non profit groups in charge of bringing the refugees are not providing enough information about them. (Photo: Houston Public Media)

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit this week seeking to stop several Syrian refugees seeking to resettle in Houston and Dallas.

Paxton sued the federal government and the International Rescue Committee, one of the non-profit groups coordinating the arrival of Syrian refugees in Texas, claiming they hadn't provided enough information about the refugees.

The state says it needs to assess whether the refugees might represent a threat, especially in the wake of the Paris massacre perpetrated by ISIS militants just three weeks ago.

After the initial filing, Paxton withdrew his request for a temporary restraining order that aimed to stop the arrival of six refugees in Dallas next week.

Rebecca Robertson, Legal and Policy Director of the ACLU of Texas, welcomed Paxton's decision.

"We think it is a very good first step toward ultimately getting back on track to get Syrian refugee families settled in Texas," she said.

However, Paxton is still going forward with the lawsuit.

He said in a statement the federal government and the International Rescue Committee have to consult with Texas before resettling more in the state.

Professor Geoffrey Hoffman, director of the immigration clinic at the University of Houston, said "the state’s attempt to prevent or block Syrian refugees could reasonably be interpreted as an attempt to interfere with the federal executive power to regulate and enforce immigration."

Hoffman is skeptical about Texas' chances to win the case because the courts have repeatedly ruled that immigration policy is handled by the federal government, not the states.

Martin Cominsky leads the Houston office of Interfaith Ministries, an organization that also has experience working with refugees, and thinks the arguments made by Texas' officials don't make much sense.

"It’s particularly disappointing to me that they get lumped in, when they’re victims of terrorism, that they’re also considered terrorists, perpetrators as well," said Cominsky.