After taking in more refugees over the past 12 months than any other state in the U.S., Texas is threatening to exit the federal refugee program, effective 9/30/16, unless the Obama administration agrees to new security measures intended to protect Texas citizens. The demands by Texas Governor Greg Abbot come just days after the recent bombings in New York and New Jersey and in response to Obama's recent announcement of plans to accept 110,000 refugees in 2017, up 57% since 2015
Abbott released the following comments on his website saying, among other things, that the "refugee settlement program is riddled with serious problems" and that the "federal government lacks the capability or the will to distinguish the dangerous from the harmless." Abbott also took the opportunity to blast Obama for "ineptly proposing a dramatic increase in the number of refugees" in 2017 saying that the U.S. is incapable of fully screening immigrants from nations like Syria.
“The federal government’s refugee settlement program is riddled with serious problems that pose a threat to our nation. 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."
“Empathy must be balanced with security. 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."
“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. 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.”
Over the past 12 months, Texas has accepted 7,205 refugees, more than any other state in the country, with ~750 of them from Syrian.
Below is the letter sent by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to the Federal Office of Refugee Settlement earlier today.