Updated: Texas Withdraws Request for Temporary Block on Syrian Refugees

Dec 4, 2015

Update 12:30 p.m. Attorney General Ken Paxton announced today that the state was withdrawing its request for a Temporary Restraining Order blocking the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the state. Paxton cites the federal government's "provid[ing] additional requested information" about the group of refugees scheduled to arrive in Texas in the coming week as the reason for the withdrawal. The state is still seeking an injunction against the federal government, requiring it to comply with its "statutory duty to consult with Texas in advance of resettling refugees." That's according to the statement Paxton released on his website.

The state "remain[s] concerned" about the federal government's process for resettling refugees, Paxton says. The International Rescue Committee, a nonprofit refugee resettlement organization, counters with the point that securing refugee status in the U.S. actually takes a long and rigorous vetting process.

Original story, Friday 9 a.m. A nonprofit refugee organization has filed its opposition to a lawsuit filed Wednesday by State of Texas officials trying to block the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the state.

In a brief filed with a federal court Friday, the International Rescue Committee declared its opposition to the injunction filed by Attorney General Ken Paxton's office on behalf of the state's Health and Human Services Commission. The suit, filed Wednesday, declares that Texas would not allow resettlement of Syrian refugees because it did not have the proper amount of information on those entering the country through the refugee resettlement program.

The Texas Tribune reported the suit

"argues that the federal government and resettlement group have not fulfilled their contractual obligations to consult with, and provide information to, state officials.

"It argues that federal officials violated the Refugee Act of 1980, which requires that the federal government 'shall consult regularly' with the state regarding the placement of refugees. Texas also alleges that the International Rescue Committee violated a separate provision of the act requiring the nonprofit work “in close cooperation and advance consultation” with the state."

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made a statement after the recent Paris attacks saying that refugees from Syria would not be permitted to resettle in Texas; there was some indication initially that one or more of the Paris attackers were of Syrian origin. The IRC, however, argues that seeking refugee status would be one of the most difficult ways to enter the U.S. 

"Refugees are the most security-vetted population who enter the United States. Multiple U.S. Government agencies conduct rigorous security checks, a process that typically takes between 18-24 months," the nonprofit said in a statement Friday.

Twenty-one Syrian refugees, including a dozen children, are set to be resettled next week in Dallas and Houston, the federal government said Friday. 

Below, you can read the full brief below: 

IRCBrief1204