Texas withdraws from Refugee Resettlement Program

FILE - In this Jan. 14, 2016 file photo, Syrian refugees inside the border wait to be approved to get into Jordan, in the Hadalat reception area, near the northeastern Jordanian border with Syria, and Iraq, near the town of Ruwaished, Jordan. The Senate will consider new rigorous screening procedures for Syrian and Iraqi refugees seeking to enter the United States as national security looms large for voters in an election year. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh, File)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Gov. Greg Abbott says Texas will no longer participate in the Refugee Resettlement Program.

The state decided to officially withdraw on Friday after they said the federal government refused to make certain adjustments to the program. The state wanted the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the National Intelligence departments to provide assurances that refugees who resettle in Texas do not pose a security threat as well as guarantee that Texas would not take in more refugees than the year before. Additionally, the state wants to ability to refuse a refugee if the Governor does not believe they have been adequately screened.

Texas gave the federal government an ultimatum to respond by Friday, which they didn’t respond to.

“As a result, Texas will withdraw from the refugee resettlement program. As governor, I will continue to prioritize the safety of all Texans and urge the federal government to overhaul this severely broken system.”

Federal Government’s Screening Process

Refugees first have to apply through the United Nations. Then, security officials with the state department process the applications; including background checks and bio-metric screenings.

The whole process can take up to two years. If a refugee passes those checks, they are placed with one of the nine national resettlement organizations.

Local non-profits contracted by the state get federal money to help the refugees learn English, find jobs, and schools for their children. In Austin, there are two organizations slated to assist with refugees, Refugee Services of Texas and Caritas of Austin.

By 2017, President Obama wants the U.S. to take in 110,000 refugees fleeing their home countries from war. Texas sued the federal government to stop Syrian refugees from coming to Texas, but a Judge dismissed the lawsuit. The state filed an appeal in August.

The talk of refusing refugees started after the deadly Paris attacks last November. That is when Texas and 27 other states said they would not allow refugees in. They cited security concerns after investigators revealed one of the Paris terror attack suspects posed as a refugee from Syria.

Despite the lawsuits, refugees have still been coming to Texas. The states is currently taking in more refugees than any other state. Last year Texas found homes for more than 7,600 refugees, which is nearly 11 percent of the total coming to the country.

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