Governor. Greg Abbott informed Mike Pompeo Texas will reject refugees, making it the first state to decline resettlement under Trump executive order.
Governors of 42 other states have said they will allow more refugees.
Abbott cited the immigration crisis as the justification.
Abbott’s announcement could have major implications for refugees coming to the United States. Texas has large refugee populations in several of its cities and has long been a leader in settling refugees, taking in more than any other state during the 2018 governmental fiscal year, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Since the 2002 fiscal year, Texas has resettled an estimated 88,300 refugees, second only to California, according to the Pew Research Center.
In a letter released Friday, Abbott wrote that Texas “has been left by Congress to deal with disproportionate migration issues resulting from a broken federal immigration system.” He added that Texas has done “more than its share.”
Abbott argued that the state and its non-profit organizations should instead focus on “those who are already here, including refugees, migrants, and the homeless — indeed, all Texans.”
It wasn’t clear how Abbott’s letter might affect any currently pending refugee cases.
Refugee groups sharply criticized the Republican governor. Ali Al Sudani, chief programs officer of Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, predicted that some refugees with longstanding plans to come to Texas would have flights rescheduled or delayed. Al Sudani settled in Houston from Iraq in 2009 and now works to resettle other refugees.
“You can imagine the message that this decision will send to them and to their families,” Al Sudani said. “It’s very disappointing and very sad news, and honestly, this is not the Texas that I know.”
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said he had met refugees in Dallas who had previously served as interpreters or aides for U.S. soldiers.
“You have people who are fleeing violence, people who are assisting us in the war on terror, who are having the door slammed in their faces,” said Jenkins, a Democrat who is the county’s chief administrative official.