With its demands for steps to protect the security of its citizens unmet, the state of Texas on Wednesday said it will no longer participate in the Obama administration’s refugee resettlement program.
Texas had demanded that any refugees resettled in the state receive extensive security checks to ensure that refugees are not terror threats. The federal government would not agree to the plan Texas has proposed.
As a result, the state has written to the Office of Refugee Resettlement to announce that Texas will withdraw from the program on Jan. 31, 2017.
“The federal government’s refugee settlement program is riddled with serious problems that pose a threat to our nation,” Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, said in a statement. “The director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the director of national intelligence have repeatedly declared their inability to fully screen refugees from terrorist-based nations. Even with the inability to properly vet refugees from Syria and countries known to be supporters or propagators of terrorism, President Obama is now ineptly proposing a dramatic increase in the number of refugees to be resettled in the U.S.”
— Gov. Greg Abbott (@GovAbbott) September 21, 2016
The action taken by Texas follows terrorist incidents over the weekend in Minnesota, New York and New Jersey.
Further, the Obama administration has said it wants to increase the number ofrefugees admitted to America to 110,000 in the coming year, with an undetermined number coming from Syria. The U.S. has brought in slightly more than 10,000 Syrian refugees in the current federal fiscal year ending Sept. 30.
“Empathy must be balanced with security,” Abbott said in a statement. “Texas has done more than its fair share in aiding refugees, accepting more refugees than any other state between October 2015 and March 2016.”
“While many refugees pose no danger, some pose grave danger, like the Iraqi refugee with ties to ISIS who was arrested earlier this year after he plotted to set off bombs at two malls in Houston,” Abbott said.
The letter said Texas had sought to work with the federal government but did not receive sufficient cooperation.
“Despite multiple requests by the state of Texas, the federal government lacks the capability or the will to distinguish the dangerous from the harmless, and Texas will not be an accomplice to such dereliction of duty to the American people,” Abbott added. “Therefore, Texas will withdraw from the refugee resettlement program. I strongly urge the federal government to completely overhaul a broken and flawed refugee program that increasingly risks American lives.”
Kansas and New Jersey have also opted to not participate in the refugee resettlement program, citing safety concerns.
Texas does have the authority to unilaterally prohibit refugees from being placed in the state. However, the state’s action would mean that federal relocation funding would not be available to groups trying to resettle refugees in Texas.