After the state of Texas on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the federal government and aid organization International Rescue Committee (IRC), claiming that both failed to properly consult with the state about the arrival of Syrian refugees, the IRC issued a statement noting that the group has consulted with Texas for years.
“The International Rescue Committee has worked in coordination with Texas officials for forty years – to the benefit of Texas communities and the refugees we serve,” the Wednesday night statement reads. “Refugees are victims of terror, not terrorists, and the families we help have always been welcomed by the people of Texas. The IRC acts within the spirit and letter of the law, and we are hopeful that this matter is resolved soon.”
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission filed the lawsuit on Wednesday after the IRC repeatedly ignored calls from the state for the group to refrain from settling Syrian refugees in Texas. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has moved to block Syrian refugees from moving to his state due to security concerns following the Paris terrorist attack.
The lawsuit claims that federal government has “failed to consult regularly” with the state about refugee resettlement in Texas and that the IRC breached its contract with the state “to work in close cooperation and advance consultation with Texas.”
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission has sent letters to the State Department and the IRC asking for more information on the Syrian refugees expected to arrive in Texas and for information on the vetting process for the refugees. The IRC has expressed willingness to meet with the state government about the refugee resettlement process.
New refugees from Syria are expected to arrive in Texas as soon as Friday, Dec. 4., the IRC told the Dallas Morning News.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a Wednesday statement that the state filed the lawsuit in an attempt to protect Texas residents.
“Under the law, the federal government has a responsibility to consult with states in advance when relocating refugees, and has not fulfilled that burden here,” Paxton said. “The point of this lawsuit is not about specific refugees, it is about protecting Texans by ensuring that the federal government fulfills its obligation to properly vet the refugees and cooperate and consult with the state.”
The federal government and experts both say that governors do not have the power to block refugees from resettling in their states, as the federal government determines immigration law.