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Greg Abbott Could Pull Texas Out Of The U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program

Here’s why that doesn’t really matter.

By Comments

A young Syrian girl is seen waiting in line to pass through a border gate at the Turkish border gate on February 8, 2016 in Kilis, Turkey. According to Turkish officials some 35,000 Syrian refugees have massed on the Syrian/Turkish border after fleeing Russian airstrikes and a regime offensive surrounding the city of Aleppo in northern Syria.
Chris McGrath/Getty

On Wednesday morning, Texas’ state refugee coordinator sent a letter notifying the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement that Texas could end its participation in the federal refugee resettlement program. In an accompanying press release, Governor Greg Abbott called the program a “broken and flawed” system that “increasingly risks American lives.” He warned that if the federal government did not approve the state’s proposed refugee plan for 2017, which stipulates that Texas would be allowed to accept only those refugees who are certified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to be “not a threat,” then the state would have no choice but to withdraw from the program.

The plan was submitted in August, and it appears unlikely to be approved. Despite Abbott’s fears, it’s worth noting that the federal refugee intake system already involves an intense vetting process, including extensive background checks (see this helpful chart for a more detailed breakdown of that process), and there is no evidence that an already radicalized terrorist has slipped through the federal refugee screening to arrive on U.S. soil.

Abbott and other political leaders in Texas have long taken a hard-line stance against refugees resettling here, particularly regarding refugees from countries like war-torn Syria. For example, just a few days ago, Senator Ted Cruz renewed his call for Congress to block the U.S. resettlement of refugees from the Middle East. But despite pushback from politicians, Texas remains the nation’s top destination for refugees. The reason? The state doesn’t actually get any say in the matter.

That’s why a Texit from the federal refugee program wouldn’t really matter. According to the Houston Chronicle, all this would mean is that Texas’s resettlement office would no longer be “a pass-through for federal relocation dollars to charities and other private resettlement agencies.” Instead, the federal program would just distribute its funds directly to the non-profits actively resettling refugees in Texas. This would hardly be much of a change from what’s happening right now, since Texas is one of several states that uses a public-private partnership model rather than administering funds entirely through a state-run office. In other words, Texas pretty much had one foot out the door even before this letter.

Should Texas officially drop out of the federal program, it would be the fourth state to do so. Wyoming has been out of the program for a while, and Kansas and New Jersey both recently withdrew over similar security concerns. When Kansas was in the process of withdrawing this spring, federal officials made it clear that the move would have “no effect on the placement of refugees by the State Department” in Kansas, according to the Wichita Eagle. There’s no reason to think it would be any different in Texas.

All of this comes amid President Barack Obama’s announcement last week that the U.S. plans to increase its refugee intake by about 30 percent over the next year, starting in October. Last year, Texas resettled 2,677 refugees between October 2015 and April 2016. That number will likely grow, whether or not Abbott and Cruz like it.

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  • I never voted for Abbott. And I never will. Karma will bite you in the ass, gov’ner.

  • Charlie Primero

    I usually don’t vote, but I will vote to re-elect Governer Gregg Abbot next time.

    It’s amazing to have a politician who actually wants to protect our State from sinking into the global melting pot of bland uniform nothing.

    That is a rare and valuable asset in these days of global Marxist Critical Theory.

  • Cheryl Monteith

    Maybe Saudi Arabia should start taking in some of their fellow muslims! I am tired of us being the world’s dumping ground. We have our own citizens that need our help, our veterans are on the streets and can’t get proper care. There is no way they are vetting them, since they are from war torn countries. What records are truly available. All we are doing is adding to the already bloated welfare roles, which our president has more than doubled since being in office. You can’t have more people on welfare than working Americans to pay their bills!

    • Cantard

      “All we are doing is adding to the already bloated welfare roles, which
      our president has more than doubled since being in office.”

      Out of curiosity, can you support that statement with figures?

      • Charlie Primero
        • Cantard

          “Google is your Friend” is the response of the lazy. I want people to cite their sources first and then I can research the source they used and contest the information.

          • Charlie Primero

            You are correct. Some clown who doesn’t know economic migrants hop on welfare upon arrival doesn’t deserve other than a lazy response. Thank you for reminding me.

          • Cantard

            Thanks for the back hand and the non-sequitur.

  • Cantard

    Estimated number of approved Iraqi refugees since 2008: 124,138.
    Estimated number of approved Syrian refugees since 2008: 1,609.
    Source USCIS.gov

    Total spent on resettled refugees in 2014: $541.4 million or $5,700 per person per year. Government support is only available for the first eight months. For comparison, we paid congress 554 million in compensation.
    Source: acf.hhs.gov

    Feel free to discuss.

  • Cheryl Monteith

    google it!

    • Cantard

      So no then. Thanks though for the suggestion.

  • Cheryl Monteith
    • Cantard

      Thank you. I pulled the most recent report issued by the HHS and went to page 21. In 2008 the recipiency figure was stated
      at 17.1% of the population. For 2012 (the last reported year) the rate was 23.6%. Per
      the report “Recipiency is defined as living in a family with receipt of
      any amount of AFDC/TANF, SSI or SNAP during the year.” This indicates a 6.5% increase in recipiency during President Obama’s tenure in office.

      (see https://aspe.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/116161/FINAL%20Fourteenth%20Report%20-%20FINAL%209%2022%2015.pdf)

      Two things I would comment on:
      1) If the recipiency of the programs did double, the recipiency taken with consideration of population growth did not double. For example, if a town had a population of 100 and had 1 person on welfare in 2008 and then had a population 1000 in 2012 with 10 people on welfare you could say welfare recipiency increased 10 fold or say that it remained at 1% of the population.

      2) The Great Depression occurred between 2007 and 2009 in which savings were destroyed and jobs were lost. To say the 6.5% increase is totally the President’s fault ignores the economic history.

  • Cheryl Monteith

    This article is from 2014.

  • oblate spheroid

    So our state leaders are doing something practically meaningless in order to make a public, political statement? Inconceivable!!!

    • Cantard

      To quote ‘The Princess Bride’, “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

      For any politician to make a public political statement which is practically meaningless is pretty much part the course.

      In retrospect you might you might have known both the quote and the irony. If, so well played my friend!

  • Blind Willy

    Just another example of why I say Abbot is a dipshit. And crook, I say he’s a crook too, but it’s not relevant to this article, lol

  • OM

    I’ve had a change of heart. I now feel the Global Community needs to do something to help all refugees stay home. If anything jeopardizes a peoples’ right to home, this Global Community steps in.