Justice

Texas Sues to Block Syrian Refugees From Settling In The State

December 4th 2015

By:
Alex Mierjeski

Texas is suing the federal government to prevent a family of Syrian refugees from settling there, in what is the first legal challenge by a state to the federal refugee resettlement program, the Atlantic reports.

Since states can't block refugees administered under the Obama administration's resettlement programs, the Texas agency that handles refugees asked a federal district judge on Wednesday for a temporary restraining order on the federal government. The family of six is scheduled to fly into Dallas on Friday, and according to the Houston Chronicle, includes a man named Tamman, his parents, wife, and two young children. The U.S. State Department provided tickets for a flight Thursday, said Anne Marie Weiss-Armush, an aid worker assisting with the move, in an interview with The Chronicle.

related: the sad truth behind what's in store for refugees headed for America

According to the lawsuit, Texas "possesses reasonable concerns about the safety and security of the citizenry of the State of Texas regarding these refugees that may seek resettlement within the State of Texas."

Following recent attacks in Paris, a climate of fear and uncertainty has blanketed many U.S. states faced with the prospect of accepting refugees from countries with terrorist activity. Governors in over half of U.S. states — including Texas — have since said they would block Syrian refugees from settling.

But because refugee resettlement falls, according to a U.S. Supreme Court precedent, under immigration policy, that means the federal government ultimately controls the process, according to Constitutional directive — not the states.

States required by law to accept refugees

related: why it's disgraceful to blame refugees for the attacks in paris

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which deals with refugee placement, is basing its suit on provisions contained in the language or the federal Refugee Act of 1980, which gives Obama discretion over the country's refugee policies. The lawsuit brings up a requirement in that act for the federal government to consult state and local governments, as well as other private agencies that settle refugees, before refugees can actually be resettled. As Think Progress reports, Texas says the government "breached this statutory duty of advance consultation."

A Texas NBC affiliate reported that the Justice Department said it would review the state's complaint. The International Rescue Committee, which was also mentioned in the lawsuit, said that Syrian refugees entering the U.S. are vetted with the highest level of security precautions.

For more on the refugee process, check out ATTN:'s video with Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson: