Texas governor to reject new refugees, first under Trump

Abbott had tried to stop refugees before declaring in 2015 that Texas would not welcome people from Syria

Abbott had tried to stop refugees before declaring in 2015 that Texas would not welcome people from Syria

Abbott, whose a strong supporter of President Donald Trump, is taking advantage of a Trump executive order that purports to allow states to refuse refugees the right to resettle.

Abbott wrote that Texas has already been forced to "deal with disproportionate migration issues" due to federal inaction to fix a broken immigration system.

Approximately 2,500 refugees were resettled in Texas in the 2019 fiscal year, down 70 percent from fiscal 2016, according to State Department data.

Governors in 42 other states have said they will consent to allowing in more refugees, according to the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, which works with local agencies throughout the U.S.to resettle refugees.

It wasn't clear how Abbott's letter might affect any pending refugee cases.

"Texas has a long and proud history of welcoming refugees", Mark Hetfield, president and CEO of HIAS, a refugee resettlement group that is part of the current legal battle, said in a statement.

"Since FY2010 ... roughly 10% of all refugees resettled in the United States have been placed in Texas", Abbott complained. Mayors of many of Texas' largest cities had already submitted their consent to allow refugees in their cities, including Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, who had previously urged Abbott to do the same for the state as a whole.

Citing a 2015 study by New American Economy, the organization said refugees in Texas "had a combined spending power of $4.6 billion and paid a total of $1.6 billion in taxes" that year.

Both the state and the locality must say they are willing to take refugees.

Hutchinson has also suggested that refugees to Arkansas will likely be nationals who have cooperated with the US military and are thus being persecuted for that reason.

"This is a deeply disappointing decision", said Krish O'Mara Vignarajah, president and chief executive officer of the resettlement agency Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS).

Abhi Rahman, a spokesman for the Texas Democratic Party, said Abbott's decision "is in complete opposition to our Texas values".

Three of the nine national resettlement agencies sued the Trump administration in federal court in an effort to block the order from being implemented. "Governor Abbott's decision will lead to more innocent people dying".

"At a time of historically low state unemployment rates, why would Texas turn away refugees with an entrepreneurial spirit that contributes to local communities and economies?"

Refugee contractors have a vested interest in making sure as many refugees are resettled across the U.S.as possible because their annual federally funded budgets are contingent on the number of refugees they resettle.

In September, Trump also announced 18,000 refugees would be admitted to the USA for fiscal year 2020 - a low since the program began in 1980 and a reduction of 40% from the previous year's cap of 30,000.

In fiscal year 2019, Texas led the nation, resettling 2,458 refugees, or 8.19% of all refugees resettled in the USA during that time, according to federal figures.

Earlier this month, 39 governors and 86 mayors across the country were listed among those who gave their consent to accept refugees under the terms of the program.

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