Gov. Greg Abbott released a letter on Friday announcing that Texas will opt out of allowing new refugees to enter the state, beginning in fiscal year 2020. Authority to do so comes from an executive order signed last year by President Donald Trump. Texas becomes the first state in the nation to opt out of receiving new refugees.
Dianne Solis covers immigration for The Dallas Morning News. She says state governors faced a deadline for deciding whether or not to accept refugees through the official federal Refugee Resettlement Program. Abbott was the 43rd governor to announce a position, and the first to opt out. Several other Republican governors have agreed to continue accepting refugees.
Until now, Texas has been a major resettlement location for refugees from around the world, Solis says.
“Frequently, 8% to 10% of the total refugee flow has come to Texas,” she says.
Abbott’s announcement conflated refugees with immigrants and asylum-seekers, Solis says. She says Abbott received pushback from many who pointed out that refugees are vetted at multiple stages of the process by which they enter the U.S.
Abbott said the immigration-related challenges Texas faces along the southern border were factors in his decision. He believes Texas has taken in too many immigrants, straining a system that refugees must also rely on as they relocate to the U.S.
Solis says that 150,000 immigrants were apprehended along the Texas border during fiscal year 2018 – double the number of people apprehended in 2017. So far, in the current fiscal year, immigration is declining.
Solis says refugee agencies in Texas call Abbott’s decision a “big blow” that will affect many who are already in the refugee pipeline.
“Frequently, refugees in the pipeline are reunited with families already here,” Solis says.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.