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The Legal Dispute Over Refugee Resettlement: Thursday’s Show (December 10, 2015)

Nine more Syrian refugees are scheduled to arrive here in Houston today, after U.S. District Judge David Godbey Wednesday denied Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s request for an emergency order blocking them. Paxton submitted then withdrew a similar request last week. The Attorney General’s back-and-forth actions are not, of course, the only mixed messages coming […]

Nine more Syrian refugees are scheduled to arrive here in Houston today, after U.S. District Judge David Godbey Wednesday denied Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s request for an emergency order blocking them. Paxton submitted then withdrew a similar request last week.

The Attorney General’s back-and-forth actions are not, of course, the only mixed messages coming from public officials in Texas and across the nation over refugees from Syria. The Obama administration has laid out plans to increase the number of refugees from Syria allowed into the country: out of millions trying to escape civil war in Syria, President Obama wants to accept 10,000 in the coming year. Over the last month, however, more than half of the nation’s governors, including Texas Governor Greg Abbott, have expressed opinions that such refugees are not welcome in their states, citing last month’s attacks in Paris and potential ties attackers may have had to Syria as justification. (Despite Governor Abbott’s position, some 250 Syrian refugees have already resettled in Texas).

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas Tuesday announced a bill to give governors the authority to “opt out” of refugee programs, and unveiled a plan to temporarily halt refugees from coming to the United States from Syria, as well as from Iraq, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump has gone further, tying an entire religion to terrorism, and calling for banning all Muslim immigration to the United States “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

While advocates for refugees reinforce those seeking to connect them to fears of terrorism are misguided, and many officials across the political spectrum have denigrated Trump’s comments this week, what may be lost in all the political back-and-forth is the legal dispute Cruz’s bill seeks to address: who has the authority to accept or refuse refugees.

On this edition of Houston Matters, we seek to untangle the legal questions beneath all the noise over refugee resettlement and immigration, with the help of South Texas College of Law Professor Charles “Rocky” Rhodes.

Also this hour: developments in nanotechnology here in Houston, we welcome your questions about insurance for an area financial planner, and we talk with a chef from Mexico City who’s visiting Houston as part of an exchange by the two cities’ tourism bureaus.

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