AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Texas on Wednesday sued the U.S. government in an effort to block six Syrian refugees from resettling in Dallas this week.
The lawsuit comes after the nonprofit International Rescue Committee said it would place Syrian refugees in Texas over the objections of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.
Texas, citing security concerns, is seeking to delay the arrival of the refugees for at least a week, until a federal judge can hear the challenge.
The Obama administration has said states don’t have the authority to block refugees. The IRC, which was also named in the lawsuit, has repeatedly noted that Syrian refugees are the most security-vetted group of people who come into the U.S. The Obama administration says that vetting is thorough and can take up to two years.
Abbott is among more than two dozen governors, mostly Republicans, who have vowed to keep new Syrian refugees from resettling in their states. In Indiana, GOP Gov. Mike Pence said he met Wednesday with Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin Archbishop Joseph Tobin to ask him not to bring a Syrian refugee family into the state who is expected to arrive later this month after a two-year vetting process. Tobin said he would “give serious consideration to what” Pence said.
More than 170 Syrians have settled in the U.S. since the Paris attacks, including in states whose governors resisted, according to the U.S. State Department figures.
Abbott earlier Wednesday said the State Department offered “absolutely no guarantees” about safety ahead of the arrival.
“It is irresponsible for the refugee resettlement operations to put aside any type of security interest and continue to press on about this,” Abbott said while speaking to reporters over conference call in Cuba.
Texas had threatened the New York-based IRC with legal action last week. The group responded Monday that it would continue to help all refugees in accordance with its obligations under federal guidelines. Texas responded Tuesday with demands for a moratorium on resettlements until the state received “all information” on Syrians scheduled to arrive in Texas during the next 90 days. Texas also sent a letter to the State Department seeking information on the expected refugees to “satisfy our concerns with the effectiveness of the screening procedures.”