Nongovernmental organizations dismayed by Texas governor’s rejection of new refugees


Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the state will reject the resettlement of new refugees, becoming the first state known to do so under a recent Trump administration order.

In a letter released Friday, Abbott wrote that Texas “has been left by Congress to deal with disproportionate migration issues resulting from a broken federal immigration system.” He added that Texas has done “more than its share.”

Texas has long been a leader in settling refugees, taking in more than any other state during the 2018 governmental fiscal year, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The state has large refugee populations in several of its major cities.

In his letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Abbott argued that the state and its non-profit organizations should instead focus on “those who are already here, including refugees, migrants, and the homeless — indeed, all Texans.”

Governors in 42 other states have said they will consent to allowing in more refugees, according to the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, which works with local agencies throughout the U.S. to resettle refugees.

Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, LIRS’ CEO, called Abbott’s decision “a devastating blow to a century-old legacy of America being a leader on welcoming refugees and Texas being the state that has led the charge in this effort.” Local officials in Houston, Dallas, and other cities will not be able to take in refugees over the governor’s objection, she said.

“There are families that have been waiting literally, years to be reunified with family members” and will no longer be able to do so in the state of Texas, she said.

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