Texas Gov. Greg Abbott officially pulls state out of federal refugee programs

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott officially pulls state out of federal refugee programs
Source: AP
Source: AP

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has a message for Syrian refugees attempting to resettle in his state: You're not welcome here.

On Friday, Abbott officially announced the state will no longer participate in a federal program resettling migrants fleeing Syria's devastating civil war, which by some estimates had killed at least 470,000 people by the first few months of 2016 and has continued raging since.

While Texas officials cited security concerns and were particularly skeptical of resettling those from Syria, the Federal Refugee Resettlement program processes asylum seekers from a number of conflict zones and other countries.

"Texas has repeatedly requested that the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the director of national intelligence provide assurances that refugees resettled in Texas will not pose a security threat, and that the number of refugees resettled in Texas would not exceed the state's original allocation in fiscal year 2016 – both of which have been denied by the federal government," Abbott said in a statement to the Texas Tribune.

Abbott threatened to withdraw from the program earlier in the month, according to the Tribune, amid negotiations with the federal government over resettlement plans for the upcoming fiscal year. While the State Department wanted to increase the number of refugees admitted by 25%, Texas officials wanted to keep it at the 2016 level of 7,633.

The governor, however, cannot keep refugees out of Texas against the will of the federal government. Federal officials looking to resettle migrants can simply cut out the state's role in disbursing funds intended for resettlement and give the money to nonprofits selected to handle the programs directly, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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