Federal government plans to resettle 21 refugees in state next week – Fort Worth Star Telegram

The state has withdrawn its request to block a family of Syrian refugees from coming to Texas next week and the federal government says 21 Syrians are expected to resettle in Dallas and Houston beginning on Monday.

In its response to a lawsuit filed by the state seeking to stop the International Rescue Committee from bringing in a family of six refugees to Richardson, the federal government on Friday outlined plans for the resettlement efforts.

After the federal response was filed, the state filed a motion to withdraw its request for a temporary restraining order, but continues to seek an injunction requiring the federal government to “comply with its statutory duty to consult with Texas in advance of resettling refugees.”

“Our state will continue legal proceedings to ensure we get the information necessary to adequately protect the safety of Texas residents,” Attorney General Ken Paxton said. “While we remain concerned about the federal government’s overall refugee vetting process, we must ensure that Texas has the seat at the table that the Refugee Act requires.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered that no Syrian refugees be allowed in Texas. Abbott, and other governors and politicians across the U.S., contend that Islamic State terrorists could be among those refugees.

In support of Abbott;’s order, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission filed the federal lawsuit against the government and IRC on Wednesday to keep a family of Syrian refugees from coming to Richardson.

Court documents by the federal government outlined plans to resettle members of the family of Faez al Sharaa, a Syrian who came to Richardson earlier this year.

Sharaa’s family is expected to be resettled in the Dallas area on Monday, according to court documents. He told the Star-Telegram earlier this week that there is an apartment in Richardson ready for the six additional family members. The family members arrived in New York earlier this week and have been waiting out the legal wrangling.

Other Syrians will be resettled in Houston, including a family of six, a family of eight and 26-year-old Syrian woman whose mother lives in the Houston area, according to court documents.

‘Contrary to U.S. Constitution’

The IRC, a non-profit agency, said in its response that a federal court rule against an emergency injunction it says could “severely harm” the work it is doing.

The IRC argued that “The State has entirely failed to demonstrate that the public interest ll be served by an emergency injunction. To the contrary, the public interest will be harmed if the State s permitted to stop IRC from fulfilling its organizational mission and resettling fully vetted Syrian refugee families, as that unilateral state action would be entirely contrary to the U.S. Constitution and federal law.”

Court records indicate that IRC’s Dallas office projects it would resettle between 200 and 250 Syrians in this fiscal year.

Court records indicate that IRC’s Dallas office projects it would resettle between 200 and 250 Syrians in this fiscal year.

Texas is home to the country’s second largest population of Syrian refugees, with 242 resettled within its borders since 2012. More than 40 Syrian refugees resettled in Tarrant County since September 2014.

Anne Marie Weiss-Armush, president of DFW International, a network of internationally focused groups in Dallas-Fort Worth, said her organization’s Refugee Support Network has helped gather furnishing for the family and stocked the kitchen.

The Syrian families arrived by plane in New York on Thursday and Friday. The federal government plans to assist the families through the necessary entry requirements, including customs, according to court documents.

“As with any similarly situated refugees, once they arrive in the United States, these families are free to travel throughout the country,” the federal government wrote in its filing. “They are not in detention and are not required to travel to Texas if they decline to do so. By the same token, they may leave for any destination at any time if they so wish, albeit without the assistance of the Federal Government.”

The family planning to relocate to Richardson includes Sharaa’s half brother, a sister-in-law, a 4-year-old, a 7-year-old and his parents.

Sharaa, when reached by phone on Friday, declined to comment.

Among the other 15 Syrian refugees on their way to Texas are 12 children between the ages of 2 and 15, according to court documents.

‘Resettlement is a federal matter’

Refugee, resettlement and religious leaders have their eye on the case because it tests whether a state has the legal authority to block an action by the U.S. State Department.

Weiss-Armush likened it to a governor telling the federal government it isn’t participating in a war or saying: “I’m not going to send any Texans to go fight.”

242 Syrian refugees who have resettled in Texas since 2012.

Others refugee advocates agree with Weiss-Amush.

“Attempts to close Texas’s doors to Syrian refugees run counter to our laws, our values and our conscience,” Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas, said in a news release. “Refugee resettlement is a federal matter over which state governments have no veto authority and the refugees who need our help are families, widows and children fleeing unspeakable terror wrought by our own enemies. Texans are better than this.”

After the terrorist attacks in Paris last month, Abbott and other governors ordered a ban on the resettlement of Syrian refugees because of concerns about terrorism.

The IRC’s response was to continue helping resettle the Syrians.

“We are confident that the IRC has always acted in accordance with the law when it comes to our work to assist refugees who have been given sanctuary in Texas,” said Jennifer Sime, senior vice president of the International Rescue Committee.

“We have had a strong and collaborative relationship with the State for the past 40 years, which has benefited refugees and local communities. We have made clear our commitment to continued dialogue with the state authorities and we hope for a swift resolution of this case,” Sime said in a news release.


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