Refugees set to relocate to Texas left without a place to go

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) — President Donald Trump’s executive order is impacting refugees that were told they were going to relocate in Texas.

Despite having already gone through the vetting process, the future of 57 refugees are in limbo Tuesday morning. According to Refugee Services of Texas (RST), they were a part of the 112 people expected to come to Texas this week, but only 55 will be able to do so.

The other refugees have been refused because they come from the seven countries mentioned in the president’s ban. Under the order, over the next 90 days travelers from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, and Libya are banned from entering the U.S.

As of Tuesday afternoon, RST says the federal government has granted waivers to permit 872 refugees into the country this week, excluding refugees from the banned countries. A spokesperson for RST says they believe the last day for refugee arrivals through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program is Feb. 2. These 872 refugees were already “in transit” before the order took effect. Of those 872, 55 of these refugees (originating from Afghanistan, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritea and Rwanda) will arrive at three RST locations across Texas. In Austin, 12 refugees will arrive Thursday.

After the state withdrew from the Refugee Resettlement Program last year, RST officials say they’re left with funding gaps. The agency helps refugees by providing numerous services. Texas pulled out of the program after Governor Abbott said the federal government did not address the state’s security concerns.

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. Texas gave the federal government an ultimatum to respond, which they did not.

“Over 70 percent of these refugees are women and children, and over 70 percent of these individuals were coming to the U.S. to join family members who already live here,” said Aaron Rippenkroeger, President & CEO of Refugee Services of Texas.

In 2016, 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.

Refugees relocated to Texas 2015 2016
Amarillo 284 264
Austin 500 567
Dallas 523 702
Fort Worth 382 581
Houston 185   273  
Total 1,874 2,387

Screening process

To be allowed entry into the country refugees first have to apply through the United Nations. Then, security officials with the state department processes 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.

The refugees are then matched up with local non-profits contracted by the state to get federal money. They help the refugees learn English, find jobs, and schools for their children.

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