You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

Abbott amps up campaign to keep Syrian refugees from coming to Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott Tuesday directed state agencies to use their “full authority” to keep Syrian refugees from resettling in Texas and took the national stage to call President Barack Obama out on the issue.

“This is a situation where all of America is saying, `Mr. President, you have this wrong, you have an obligation to keep Americans safe,’” Abbott told Fox News commentator Gretchen Carlson on her show, “The Real Story.”

It was the first of a number of national TV appearances the governor is expected to make this week as he is becoming the face of about 30 governors who are resisting the placement of Syrian refugees in their states.

On Monday, Abbott wrote Obama that Texas wouldn’t be accepting Syrian refugees in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks. On Tuesday, he instructed the state’s Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas Department of Public Safety to “use your full authority to comply with this direction.”

According to a copy of the letter obtained by the American-Statesman, Abbott directed both agencies to inform local resettlement agencies about the new policy. He asked the health agency to submit an amended Texas refugee resettlement plan to federal authorities. He also named the health agency’s chief of staff, Cecile Young, to fill the vacant post of state refugee coordinator.

Abbott also directed the DPS to “work with state and local officials to ensure any refugees already in this state do not pose a risk to public safety.”

About 210 Syrian refugees have settled in Texas in the last 15 months.

State Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, Tuesday requested an opinion from state Attorney General Ken Paxton on whether its legal for Texas to conduct its own security verifications on refugees before allocating federal resettlement funding.

While it is not clear what governors can do to stop resettlement in their states, Abbott appeared ready and willing to draw a line in the sand and test the limits of his power.

“More than half of the governors of the United States of America are putting the priority on the safety of our fellow citizens as opposed to the president’s priority, which is to relocate refugees from Syria,” Abbott said on Fox News. “We are not going to tolerate, we are not going to accept any more refugees from this dangerous zone of Syria into the state of Texas or into these other states until the United States of America can ensure their safety and security.”

And, Abbott said, based on the lack of hard data to adequately vet refugees, “it is impossible for them to meet our standard.”

The Obama administration defended the vetting process as exacting and has pushed back against the governors’ resistance, portraying their reaction as panicky, political and unpatriotic.

“The refugees that have captivated so much attention in the wake of Friday’s attack are fleeing precisely the type of senseless slaughter that occurred in Paris. To slam the door in their faces — to decide not to help when we know that we can help — would be a betrayal of our values. It would be un-American,” said Amy Pope, deputy homeland security adviser and deputy assistant to the president at the National Security Council, in a posting Tuesday.

Denise Gilman, director of the immigration clinic at the University of Texas School of Law, said that if a state refuses to pass on federal dollars to local resettlement agencies, the federal government could provide the money directly to those agencies.

She said any effort to deny refugees resettlement in Texas because of their national origin would clearly be discriminatory and invite a lawsuit.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Texas News & Politics

BREAKING: Search crews looking for missing swimmer in McKinney Falls Park now in recovery mode, EMS says
BREAKING: Search crews looking for missing swimmer in McKinney Falls Park now in recovery mode, EMS says

Search crews looking for a male swimmer that was reported missing at McKinney Falls Park on Friday evening have ceased rescue operations and are now in recovery mode, Austin-Travis County EMS officials said. Emergency responders received a call about 6:30 p.m. from the 5800 block of McKinney Falls Parkway, officials said. One of the swimmer’s...
Dallas officer charged with assault in shooting death of woman
Dallas officer charged with assault in shooting death of woman

A grand jury has recommended an aggravated assault charge against a Dallas police officer who shot and killed a pregnant woman in a January confrontation involving a stolen car. The Dallas County district attorney announced Friday that Christopher Hess was indicted on a charge of aggravated assault. The charge is related to the January shooting death...
Officials ID woman who died trapped under vehicle in Jonestown

JONESTOWN Woman who died trapped under vehicle ID’d The Travis County sheriff’s office has identified the woman who died trapped under a vehicle in Jonestown on Thursday evening as 62-year-old Denise Lynn Coonrod, of Jonestown. Authorities responded at about 7 p.m. to a call from the 10000 block of Deer Canyon Drive, officials said. &ldquo...
Businesses fear more fallout may follow California travel ban to Texas
Businesses fear more fallout may follow California travel ban to Texas

California’s decision to ban its state employees from traveling to Texas on their taxpayers’ dime after Texas lawmakers passed new limits on gay parents adopting and fostering children set off a new round of recriminations Friday between the nation’s two largest states. But with the usual exchange of barbs came a new set of warnings...
GREG KELLEY CASE: Rangers’ report finds ‘previously undetected’ crimes

A Texas Rangers report looking into new allegations in the case involving Greg Kelley, who was convicted in the sexual assault of a 4-year-old boy in 2014, is soon to be finalized and hints at a finding of newly discovered criminal activity, Williamson County court documents show. However, the document will not be immediately released to the public...
More Stories