Texas backs off refugee lawsuit, allowing two families to enter

Texas backs off refugee lawsuit, allowing two families to enter
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Texas on Friday slightly backed off of its efforts to immediately block a family of Syrian refugees from resettling from within its borders, allowing a small number of migrants to enter.

The state’s Health and Human Services Commission — which earlier this week sued the Obama administration and a refugee resettlement organization to block the refugees — filed a motion withdrawing its request for an immediate halt to the refugees’ placement.

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The move will open the doors to two separate families of six Syrian refugees scheduled to enter the state on Monday. Those families, the Obama administration detailed in a filing of its own on Friday, are currently in New York. 

Texas filed its lawsuit this week seeking an immediate ban on the refugees from Syria, worried the migrants could pose a “security risk” and accusing the Obama administration of breaking the law by attempting to resettle them in the state without its approval.

In withdrawing the request for an immediate order on Friday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton instead asked for a hearing on the matter on or before Wednesday, two days after the refugees are scheduled to be brought to the state.

The Obama administration rebutted the state’s lawsuit on Friday, claiming that the federal government has “exclusive constitutional and statutory authority over immigration.”

Texas’s claim that the federal government ignored its requirement to discuss the resettlement with the state is “without merit,” the Justice Department claimed.

The law “does not create any obligation to provide advance consultation regarding individual resettlement decisions,” it added.

Additionally, the state government “has made no showing that these refugees pose any threat,” federal lawyers claimed, “much less an imminent one, to the safety or security of Texas residents or any other Americans.”

In a separate filing on Friday, the International Rescue Committee — which was also the target of Texas’s lawsuit and is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union — accused Gov. Greg Abbott (R) of “[a]cting without any lawful authority” by ordering a halt to refugees.

“The State’s attempt to interfere with refugee resettlement, and to discriminate against certain refugees on the basis of their nationality, is preempted by federal law, violates the [Constitution’s] Equal Protection Clause, and violates federal civil rights statutes,” it asserted.