No more Syrian refugees will be welcomed into the state of Texas, Governor Greg Abbott announced Monday. In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, Governor Abbott said safety is his top priority and he will not allow any more Syrian refugees to resettle in Texas.
“It is imperative that Texans do everything we can to ensure that we don’t have a Syrian refugee sneak into the state of Texas who can pose a similar terroristic danger,” Governor Abbott said outside of the mansion Monday afternoon.
A Syrian passport was reportedly found near the body of one of the suicide bombers, near the Stade de France, the national sports stadium that was filled with thousands of people for a soccer match Friday. The coordinated and grizzly terrorist attacks killed more than 130 people in Paris.
Effective immediately, the Governor directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s Refugee Resettlement Program to stop the resettlement of any Syrian refugees in the state, indefinitely.
Governor Abbott said federal officials don’t know who is coming in as a refugee. “They do not have the capability to distinguish between those refugees who can pose as terrorist and those who may be innocent,” Governor Abbott said. “Until the United States develops that capability it is essential that we do first things first and that is to keep the people of Texas safe,” said Abbott.
At the Refugee Services of Texas, officials said refugees are the single-most scrutinized and vetted individuals to travel to the United States.
In a written statement, RTS said, “we believe the Governor’s directive will serve no useful purpose except to stoke fear and bigotry toward refugees—prejudice which Americans, who comprise our nation of immigrants, have historically and categorically rejected.”
In a letter sent to the White House Monday, Abbott urged President Barack Obama to close off the entire country to Syrian refugees. “Neither you nor any federal official can guarantee that Syrian refugees will not be part of any terroristic activity,” Abbott wrote.
Governor Abbott wrote any Syrian refugees in to the U.S. puts people at risk, “… opening our door to them irresponsibly exposes our fellow Americans unacceptable peril.”
More than a dozen other governors announced similar actions to block Syrian refugees from their states.
Officials at RTS said they support all efforts to protect against terrorism but advise people to be careful not to single out refugees as “bad actors, which some might construe by Gov. Abbott’s directive on future resettlements of refugees from Syria,” the statement read.
According to RTS, three-fourths of refugees who were to be resettled from Syria are women and children seeking protection from ISIS terrorists.