Texas Attorneys Back Down, Will Allow Syrian Refugees for Now

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Migrants Stuck On Greek Border As New Restrictions Are Enforced
Refugees wait to cross the Greek-Macedonian border.Photo: Milos Bicanski/2015 Getty Images

On Friday, Texas state attorneys withdrew their request for a temporary restraining order to keep Syrian refugees from settling in the state. The capitulation came shortly after the federal government reminded Texas that it has no authority to bar refugees from resettling there. 

Attorneys for the state of Texas protested that Washington and refugee-resettlement groups have left Texas officials “uninformed about refugees that could post a security risk to Texans.”

In November, the Obama administration railed against the group of states (which now hovers around 30) that said they were unwilling to harbor Syrian refugees, and the Office of Refugee Resettlement sent a letter to states saying they would be breaking the law if they continued to do so.

Texas attorney general Ken Paxton vowed that this would not be the end of litigation. “Our state will continue legal proceedings to ensure we get the information necessary to adequately protect the safety of Texas residents,” he said in a statement.

The ebb in legal objections will allow 21 Syrian refugees, including two families with young children, to settle in Dallas and Houston next week. Cecilia Wang, who works with the ACLU and refugee-resettlement groups in Texas, told ABC News that she was hopeful that this may be the end of the legal proceedings. She said, “I think that it’s the first sign that Texas is beginning to see the light.”