Houston Matters

Reaction to Texas Pulling Out of the Refugee Resettlement Program

Last week (Sept. 30, 2016), Gov. Greg Abbott announced Texas was officially pulling out of the national program to resettle refugees, making good on an earlier threat to withdraw if the Obama administration didn’t accept changes to the program the state demanded, citing security concerns. Gov. Abbott’s statement said the state wanted refugees better vetted […]

Photo: Michael Hagerty, Houston Public MediaLast week (Sept. 30, 2016), Gov. Greg Abbott announced Texas was officially pulling out of the national program to resettle refugees, making good on an earlier threat to withdraw if the Obama administration didn’t accept changes to the program the state demanded, citing security concerns.

Gov. Abbott’s statement said the state wanted refugees better vetted on whether they posed national security risks. (Refugees already go through extensive screenings before being resettled).

Houston-area lawmaker Gene Wu, a Democrat representing District 137 (including portions of southwest Houston) in the Texas House, says the move is purely political and will only make work harder for the agencies that serve refugees.

We talk with Wu about his concerns and what this may mean for refugee resettlement in Houston and the rest of Texas going forward.

A spokesman for Gov. Abbott’s office declined a request for an interview but issued this statement:

“Texas has repeatedly requested that the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Director of National Intelligence provide assurances that refugees resettled in Texas will not pose a security threat, and that the number of refugees resettled in Texas would not exceed the State’s original allocation in fiscal year 2016 – both of which have been denied by the federal government. As a result, Texas will withdraw from the refugee resettlement program. As governor, I will continue to prioritize the safety of all Texans and urge the federal government to overhaul this severely broken system.”

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