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

Texas threatens to leave U.S. refugee program

Texas threatened Wednesday to withdraw from the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program unless the Obama administration approved, without changes, a state proposal requiring national security officials to certify that incoming refugees pose no threat of engaging in terrorism.

The ultimatum was made because Texas officials don’t trust the federal government’s system of background checks for refugees “from terrorist-based nations,” Gov. Greg Abbott said.

“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,” Abbott said.

“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.,” the governor said.

Resettlement groups said the threatened withdrawal wouldn’t stop the flow of refugees into Texas, adding that a nonprofit would be designated to assume the state’s role in coordinating refugee programs and distributing federal aid.

“Withdrawing from the resettlement program does not make Texans safer or accomplish any public policy goals,” said Linda Hartke, president of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. “Despite Gov. Abbott’s concerns, we know that refugees entering the U.S. pass through the most rigorous and comprehensive security screenings of any persons admitted to the U.S.”

Donna Duvin, executive director of the International Rescue Committee of Dallas, said the threat to withdraw from the federal program is “completely out of touch with Texas values.”

“The IRC has resettled refugee families in the state for decades and has consistently seen communities overwhelmingly embrace refugees in their schools, jobs and places of worship,” she said. “While the governor scapegoats innocent families, Texans continue to open their arms to welcome refugees in need.”

The Texas ultimatum followed a series of setbacks in meeting Abbott’s vow, delivered shortly after terrorist attacks in Paris left 130 dead 10 months ago, to keep Syrian refugees out of the state.

Twice in the past year, a federal judge refused state attempts to block the arrival of Syrian refugees, saying fears of terrorism were based largely on speculative hearsay and that Texas failed to provide sufficient evidence showing that terrorists had infiltrated the refugee program.

One day after the U.S. judge dismissed the state’s lawsuit in mid-June, Texas announced that it had submitted a new state refugee plan for federal approval.

The plan, for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, said Texas will accept only those refugees that the FBI, Homeland Security Department and director of national intelligence can certify don’t pose a security threat to the state.

In a letter sent Wednesday, Texas refugee coordinator Kara Crawford told the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that unless the state’s plan is approved without changes by Sept. 30, “we will interpret your silence as a rejection of the application.”

If rejected, Texas will exit the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program and stop providing refugee groups and contractors with services and benefits on Jan. 31, the first available date to withdraw under the state’s current agreement with the federal government, the letter said.

“Empathy must be balanced with security,” Abbott said. “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.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Federal judge temporarily blocks deportation of Iraqis in Michigan
Federal judge temporarily blocks deportation of Iraqis in Michigan

A federal judge granted a 14-day stay of removal Thursday, blocking the deportation  of more than 100 Iraqis living in Michigan, CNN reported. >> Read more trending news The temporary stay allows any of the men and women detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to appear before an immigration judge and make their case for...
THE FINAL FIVE: San Marcos city manager finalists are named
THE FINAL FIVE: San Marcos city manager finalists are named

The national search for San Marcos’ next city manager has produced five finalists — four of them relatively close to home. Strategic Government Resources, a firm hired to help the city with a nationwide search, received 55 applications from candidates in 21 states to succeed Jared Miller, who stepped down in January to become city...
EXCLUSIVE: Contract reveals final terms for Plaza Saltillo deal
EXCLUSIVE: Contract reveals final terms for Plaza Saltillo deal

Capital Metro would receive almost $19 million in rent over the first decade of what will be a century-long lease of the Plaza Saltillo tract in East Austin, according to a 400-page agreement the agency released to the American-Statesman this week under an open records request. The transit agency, which has owned the former rail yard just east of Interstate...
Man gets 40 years for Cedar Park break-in, assault attempt
Man gets 40 years for Cedar Park break-in, assault attempt

A man accused of trying to sexually assault a Cedar Park woman in a shower after breaking into her home in 2015 received two 40-year sentences Wednesday. Clarence Alexander Richardson, 28, pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary of a habitation with intent to commit sexual assault, according to a plea agreement. District Judge Donna King sentenced...
Suitcase found in storage unit could lead to 99 years in prison
Suitcase found in storage unit could lead to 99 years in prison

A man who lost his storage unit in Round Rock after not paying rent on it left behind notebooks that could lead to him spending up to 99 years in prison, according to an arrest affidavit. Ryan Dene Kyle, 32, of Pflugerville, was charged Wednesday with fraudulent possession of identifying information, a first-degree felony. The notebooks were filled...
More Stories