Some groups in Texas are pushing back against Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent decision to opt out of the federal Refugee Resettlement Program. Some cities are pushing back, too, including ones whose residents are usually politically aligned with the governor.
New York Times reporter Manny Fernandez says Amarillo is one such place, and has been overlooked when it comes to the refugee story in Texas. For a time, the Panhandle city took in more refugees per capita than any other city in Texas.
“They think of Houston and Dallas and San Antonio and some of the major metro areas,” Fernandez says. “But Amarillo … has been getting a lot of refugees for a number of years. And these refugees have helped, sort of changed, what Amarillo is.”
Fernandez says refugee resettlement there has helped boost the population and the economy. He spoke with residents, especially those who identify as politically conservative, and says they don’t all share the governor’s views.
“It was surprising,” Fernandez says. “A lot of the conservatives said two things at the same time: They said, ‘We have no reason to second-guess our governor; we like our governor.’ But at the same time, they were sort of pro-refugee.”
Fernandez says that residents have seen a lot of refugees settle in Amarillo over the years, and that they live similar lives to those of non-refugees: they work, they put their kids through school. He says many of the conservative-leaning people he talked to welcome them.
“That was sort of surprising in a place where … [it] is pretty red in Texas,” Fernandez says.
Written by Morgan Kuehler.