Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Formally Closes State To New Refugees, Thanks To Recent Donald Trump Executive Order

Gov. Abbott is the first governor in the nation to opt-out of the State Department's refugee settlement program.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks at Dallas's City Hall.
Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Gov. Abbott is the first governor in the nation to opt-out of the State Department's refugee settlement program.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Friday that his state will no longer welcome refugees, at least in 2020, citing his legal authority to do so based on an executive order recently signed by President Donald Trump which allows governors to make such decisions.

According to The Hill, Abbott argued that Texas has already accepted more refugees than any other state in the nation for the past decade. Coupled with an influx of immigrants, as he claimed, the state is not currently in a position to leave the doors open for new refugees.

“At this time, the state and nonprofit organizations have a responsibility to dedicate available resources to those who are already here, including refugees, migrants, and the homeless — indeed, all Texans,” Abbott wrote in a statement.

“As a result, Texas cannot consent to initial refugee resettlement for FY2020.”

The president’s executive order that provided Abbott with the necessary legal power to close off the state to new refugees was signed last year. The executive order forces refugees who are coming into America for the first time to settle in locations that have been agreed upon under a federal program, and only where local governments and the state have formed agreements to take them in.

As NPR reported, the Trump administration was highly criticized for the move, and the executive order was challenged in court by a number of non-profit groups who assist refugees with the settlement process.

“This is a shameful decision by Gov. Abbott which is unworthy of the great state’s reputation for being big, bold and hospitable,” said Mark Hetfield on Friday, who is the president and CEO of one of the groups pursuing the legal battle against the administration.

Though over two dozen governors — representing both political parties — have recently agreed to keep their states open for new refugee settlers, Abbott officially became the first governor to take advantage of the new rules. He officially informed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of his decision on Friday, reminding critics that one out of every 10 refugees who have settled in the United States have chosen Texas in the past, according to The Washington Examiner.

“Texas has carried more than its share in assisting the refugee resettlement process and appreciates that other states are available to help with these efforts,” Abbott wrote.

The governor’s move came amid efforts by the Trump administration to reduce the overall number of refugees entering the United States. The cap for 2017 was set at 45,000 and in 2018 it was lowered to 30,000. In 2019, the administration set a limit of only 18,000.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Trump has been criticized by members of both parties, including Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, for his pledge to severely restrict the number of refugees.