AUSTIN - Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday that Texas will withdraw from the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program unless it “unconditionally” approves the state’s updated refugee plan.
The governor’s office said the decision comes state officials do not trust the federal government’s background check system for refugees. Texas’ plan would require national security officials to ensure that refugees do not pose a security threat to Texas.
Abbott released the following statement Wednesday:
“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.”
In June, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the state over the resettlement of six refugees.
If the federal government does not approve the state’s amended plan by Sept. 30, a letter from the state refugee coordinator at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement states Texas will leave the program 120 days after the deadline, Jan. 31, 2017.
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