Syrian refugees can not be blocked out of Texas according to a ruling from U.S. District Judge David Godbey. NBC News reports that Judge Godbey found they must be allowed to resettle in Houston. The following are statements included in his three-page order.
"The fact that this Court is required to assess the risk posed by a group of Syrian refugees illustrates one of the problems with this case... The Court has no institutional competency in assessing the risk posed by refugees.
"The commission has failed to show by competent evidence that any terrorists actually have infiltrated the refugee program, much less that these particular refugees are terrorists' intent on causing harm. The Court finds that the evidence before it is largely speculative hearsay."After the Paris terrorist attacks in November, governors of over 20 states indicated they would block the entry of Syrian refugees to their states. As explained by the Huffington Post, President Barack Obama quickly reminded states that they can't do that. States do not have the authority to deny entry to refugees.
As reported by The Hill, Rep. Michael McCaul, who serves as Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, indicated on Monday that intelligence officials have reported that Islamic extremists have investigated the possibility of entering the U.S. through the refugee program. McCaul's statement was used by Texas in their latest attempt to block resettlement, but Judge Godbey found their case lacking sufficient evidence to approve their request.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the Texas governor appeared with Texas Senator Ted Cruz on Tuesday to talk about his proposed State Refugee Security Act, which would require the federal government to give states a 21-day notice before resettling families and also allows states to refuse the families if the federal government can't provide assurance that the families do not pose a security risk. In the last five years, Texas has taken in over 250 Syrian refugees, second only to California who has taken in 252 over the same time period.
Syrian refugees entering the U.S. has been a major concern of the Republican Party. In an interview with Steve Inskeep of NPR's Morning Edition, Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, talked about the Visa Waiver Program and changes that he and fellow Republicans feel would go a long way in protecting Americans from refugee security threats without blocking their entry. The proposed changes would impose stricter regulations for individuals from 38 countries who are currently entering the U.S. through travel. Currently they can visit for up to 90 days without a visa. Republicans seek to change that and tell people traveling to America from Iraq, Iran, the Sudan, and Syria, or people who have traveled to those countries in the last five years, that they can't enter without a visa. CNN has reported that the proposed changes passed the House by a vast majority on Tuesday.
Arguably the hottest topic in the U.S. for the last few weeks has been how to deal with the 4.3 million Syrian refugees. It's difficult to imagine that number of people seeking to settle somewhere. American opinion covers a wide range. Some feel our current refugee vetting process is sufficient and nothing needs to change. There are some who, like Governor Abbott, object to current law that says states can't refuse refugees and are seeking to change that. And some agree with Donald Trump that we should block the entry of all Muslims to the country until we learn more about the Syrian refugees and current terrorism activity. Mitch McConnell has stated that he believes the Syrian refugee crisis will be included in the omnibus bill Congress has to approve this week in order to avoid a shutdown. Passion is high on all sides and is bound to remain so for the foreseeable future.
[Photos courtesy of Alex Wong, Spencer Platt/Getty Images}