Texas refuses to participate in Obama's plan to accept Syrian refugees

By Doug G. Ware   |   Sept. 30, 2016 at 5:02 PM
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AUSTIN, Texas, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- In a move that wasn't exactly a surprise, the state of Texas said Friday that it won't participate in President Barack Obama's plan to help thousands of Middle Eastern refugees resettle in the United States.

Gov. Greg Abbott's office announced the decision Friday and the governor has cited security concerns are reasons for his opposition.

"The lax security of the refugee program is indefensible & endangering to all Americans," he said via Twitter on Thursday.

"As governor, I will continue to prioritize the safety of all Texans and urge the federal government to overhaul this severely broken system," he posted to Facebook Friday.

Obama's administration has said it plans to bring in tens of thousands of Syrian refugees in the coming years, to aid the solution to the ongoing migrant crisis in Europe.

Texas previously indicated it would participate in the program, but threatened to pull out last week unless all of the refugees were fully vetted and don't pose a security threat. Critics have alleged that U.S. officials plan to accept the refugees at their word.

Gov. Greg Abbott/Facebook

The Department of Homeland Security, though, has said all refugees will be screened by a thorough process.

"Texas has repeatedly requested that [feds] provide assurances that refugees resettled in Texas will not pose a security threat, and that the number of refugees resettled in Texas would not exceed the state's original allocation in fiscal year 2016 -- both of which have been denied," Abbott added in a statement.

Texas has been reluctant to participate in the refugee program since Obama announced it, due to the same security concerns. In November, Abbott ordered resettlement nonprofits in Texas to reject refugees from Syria.

Part of opponents' concern is the potential for terrorism -- worries that have only been aggravated with major attacks in France and Belgium in recent months.

Federal officials did not immediately respond to Texas' announcement Friday.

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