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Critics Cry Foul After TX Governor Rejects New Refugees

According to the Pew Research Center, Texas was second only to California in the number of refugees resettled in the U.S. Since 2002, 88,300 refugees have resettled in the Lone Star State. Photo: Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston

by Eric Galatas

HOUSTON — Advocates for people seeking refuge in the U.S. are challenging Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to reject new refugees.

The move would bar refugees approved by federal agencies and vetted for security concerns.

Ali Al Sudani, chief programs officer for Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, says the governor’s announcement has created anxiety and fear for people with plans to come to the U.S., and families already here.

He’s also concerned about how the move will impact the state’s reputation, and the message it sends to the international business community.

“Is this really how we want to be perceived, as a state that is not welcoming?” Al Sudani raises. “And I know for sure we are not — we are a very welcoming state, and I am a proud Texan.”

Texas became the first state to reject refugees under an order issued by the Trump administration in September. Governors in 42 other states have said they would accept new refugees.

Abbott says Texas has done more than its fair share of resettlement, and in a letter last week urged nonprofit groups to focus on families already in the state, as well as immigrants and people experiencing homelessness.

Al Sudani says there are resources in Texas to support all populations in need, especially since the total number of refugees approved to enter the U.S., at just 18,000 for fiscal year 2020, is the lowest number on record.

Al Sudani adds there’s nothing that shows American values like taking in strangers fleeing danger in other countries and offering them opportunities for success and to raise their families in safety.

“Refugee resettlement to America is like apple pie and baseball,” he states. “There is nothing more American than refugee resettlement. And we are the world’s melting pot, and that makes us stronger.”

According to a Trump administration report, refugees to the U.S. contributed nearly $270 billion in tax and other revenues over 10 years.

A lawsuit filed to block the administration’s executive order resulted in a preliminary injunction by a federal judge in Baltimore. A decision in that case is expected in the next few weeks.

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