Tuesday, September 26, 2023
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Texas Renews Fight|Against Syrian Refugees

DALLAS (CN) - Emboldened by the arrest of an Iraqi refugee in Houston on terror charges, Texas renewed its demand for an injunction blocking Syrian refugees from the state without more information about them.

Attorney General Ken Paxton on Friday filed a reply in support of an amended application for preliminary injunction in Federal Court.

Texas sued the United States and the nonprofit International Rescue Commission in December, claiming they violated the Refugee Act of 1980 by failing to "consult regularly" with state and local governments and nonprofit agencies before placing refugees.

Texas claims the IRC failed to comply with its Dec. 1 demand not to resettle six Syrians in Dallas "until we have receive[d] the requested information and our concerns with screening procedures have been appropriately addressed" by federal officials.

Paxton's new filing came days after the arrest of Omar Farej Saeed al Hardan, 24, a permanent resident and Iraq-born Palestinian. He was denied bond on Jan. 13 after federal agents testified that al Hardan told an informant he wanted to plant bombs at two Houston-area shopping malls. The agents testified that al Hardan also told the informant he wanted to go to a military base in Grand Prairie - a suburb of Dallas - and "use gasoline to set fire and blow up Humvees ."

Texas claims the United States' opposition to its concerns indicate the federal government believes "Texas has neither the right nor role" to protect its residents.

"Texas has a right to protect its residents and obtain full advanced consultation regarding proposed refugee placements - which is far more than after-the-fact notices of mass placements - including person-specific information before defendants place refugees in Texas," the 16-page reply states. "Their refusal to provide the requested information before resettlement is a harm that cannot be remedied at law."

Paxton said al Hardan's arrest "is exactly the type of security risk" to schools and communities that must be stopped.

"Texas resettles, and welcomes with open arms, more refugees than any other state," he said in a statement Friday. "But there is a significant difference between refugees and terrorists posing as refugees to infiltrate America and cause mass devastation. The safety and security of Texans must always come first."

Texas takes in about 10 percent of the country's refugees by partnering with volunteer agencies and paying some of the costs, Paxton said.

Seventeen interfaith religious leaders filed an amicus brief in the lawsuit on Jan. 11 in support of the defendants. They said Texas' demand that religious groups discriminate against the needy based on national origin "is not just wrong, it threatens religious freedom."

Immigration attorneys say Texas has no legal basis to keep legal U.S. residents out of the state, and people granted refugee status in the United States are legal residents.

The governor or Legislature may cut off funding to refugee groups, with or without a lawsuit.

Follow @davejourno
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