A group of migrants huddle on the beach after arriving by raft from Turkey onto the island of Lesbos on Oct. 21, 2015 in Sikaminias, Greece.
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty

Federal judge rejects Texas’ attempt to block Syrian refugees

Texas hit a major setback on Monday after a federal judge rejected its efforts to block Syrian refugees from resettling in the Lone Star State.

U.S. District Court Judge David Godbey of Dallas ruled on Monday that it was not up to the courts to interfere with issues that should be handled by the executive branch and that Texas officials failed to prove the state could win its lawsuit challenging the process of finding refugees new homes.

“The Court does not deny that the Syrian refugees pose some risk. That would be foolish,” Godbey wrote. “In our country, however, it is the federal executive that is charged with assessing and mitigating that risk, not the states and not the courts.”

The Texas lawsuit, brought against the federal government and a contractor tasked with refugee resettlement, came amid a tense political climate that turned a negative spotlight on the vetting process facing Syrian refugees. A string of terror attacks stoked fears that assailants could take advantage of the U.S. immigration systems to wage future strikes. More than 30 governors responded by threatening to shut out all Syrian refugees until the dust settled.

Sixteen days in the life of three Syrian refugees
New York-based photographer Christopher Lee traveled for 16 days with three Syrian refugees as they made the dangerous journey from Turkey to Germany.
Texas in December became the first state to take the feds to court over the issue. Alabama followed its lead a month later. In separate suits, state officials claimed that the federal government violated the Refugee Act of 1980 by not consulting states in deciding where Syrian refugees should be placed to live in the United States.

The Justice Department responded to the Texas suit by calling it political bluster. In filings opposing the legal action, the administration argued that allegations suggesting that terrorists could exploit the refugee system were “hearsay, and are at best speculative.”

In his ruling Monday denying Texas’ request for a preliminary injunction to stop refugee resettlement, Godbey said the state failed to present enough evidence to prove its case.

“Somewhat ironically, Texas, perhaps the reddest of red states, asks a federal court to stick its judicial nose into this political morass, where it does not belong absent statutory authorization,” he wrote. “Finding no such authorization, this Court will leave resolution of these difficult issues to the political process.”

 

Federal judge rejects Texas' attempt to block Syrian refugees