For years, Texas has been a top state for refugee resettlement. Houston, in particular, has welcomed more refugees than any other city in the country. But that could soon change. State governors have until Jan. 21 to tell the State Department whether their state will participate in the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program, and it’s unclear what Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will decide.
Lomi Kriel reports on immigration for the Houston Chronicle. She says Abbott has been “pretty silent” about the issue. If his recent record is any indication, he might be less inclined to stay in the program.
“In 2017, [he] withdrew from the federal resettlement program, which was really, largely, symbolic because what happened as a result is that the federal government just contracted with local resettlement agencies rather than going through the state,” Kriel says.
But that was under the old policy. Now, the Trump administration is asking states to write a letter of consent to the State Department before they admit new refugees. Kriel says this policy is “unprecedented.” Before, the federal government used to settle refugees “wherever it made sense,” she says.
Despite some complaints about refugees, 39 governors have consented to allow resettlement – 13 of those governors are Republicans.
If Texas were to opt out, it wold be a dramatic about-face, given its history with refugees. Kriel says Texas has a robust system in place to help refugees settle here, but if Abbott doesn’t consent, they’d have to go it alone.
“Agencies wouldn’t have the funds help refugees settle here,” she says.
Written by Caroline Covington.