Politics

Gov. Abbott: Texas Will Halt Aid To Refugees Resettling In The State

Texas will become the third state to pull out of the federal Refugee Resettlement Program over security concerns. The move won’t prevent refugees from coming to Texas, but it will force non-governmental organization to bear the cost of providing them with critical services.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott
Texas Governor Greg Abbott

Gov. Greg Abbott is threatening to pull Texas out of a federal program to help resettle refugees, citing security concerns.

Abbott said the state will withdraw from the federally funded Refugee Resettlement Program by September 30, unless the Obama Administration “unconditionally” approves Texas’ demands for stricter screening of refugees. That would make Texas the third state to pull out of the program, after Kansas and New Jersey.

“Texas has accomplished providing both security and refuge for decades,” says Chris Kelley, a spokesman for the non-profit Refugee Services of Texas. “Refugees remain the most scrutinized group of people who come to the U.S. They undergo 20 layers, two-plus years of security checks. And to suggest that there’s a problem with security, it’s just not the case, and it’s irresponsible.”

The move would not prevent refugees from coming to Texas. But it would force non-governmental organizations to take up much of the burden of providing services such as healthcare and English-language education to refugees.

Martin Cominsky, president and CEO of Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, says refugee resettlement already makes up about a third of his organization’s workload.

“It’s a $6 million project for us, and so funding difficulties will be a challenge when you’re spending a half-million dollars a month to help bring people and resettle them as productive citizens in Houston,” Cominsky says.

Texas sued the Obama Administration to halt the resettlement of all Syrian refugees in the state, following last November’s terrorist attacks in Paris. A federal judge threw out the suit in June.

Note: News 88.7 reached out to Abbott’s office for comment for this story. We had not received a response by airtime.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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