After Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced that his state was not accepting people fleeing war and violence, he’s now ordered humanitarians to stop doing their jobs, too.
Gov. Abbott announced last Monday that he, like dozens of other xenophobic governors, would stop efforts to allow Syrian refugees into his state in the wake of the deadly attacks in Paris. Part of the governor’s announcement included the sending of a letter from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to local non-profits, demanding that they comply with the Governor’s request by Friday afternoon.
The state could forseeably choose not to accept federal funding for the organizations that don’t comply, according to immigration attorney Gordon Quan.
“It puts them in a situation that I think is very uncomfortable,” Quan told local KHOU News. “This is basically saying, ‘Don’t do resettlement. If you do resettlement of these Syrian refugees, you may be endangering the whole program that you have’.”
As Friday came and went, some agencies that work with refugees in Texas balked at the directive, arguing that because resettlement is a federal responsibility, Gov. Abbott does not have the authority to make such a directive.
Bee Moorhead, executive director of Texas Impact, which works closely with resettlement agencies, wrote in a letter to the state that the move “constitutes an unprecedented attempt on the part of a state agency to pressure private, nonprofit organizations to violate federal law and their federal contractual obligations.”
The letter asks the state to meet with resettlement agencies and federal authorities to decide whether Abbott actually has the authority to tell organizations to ignore the pleas of homeless people.