Texas Gov. Greg Abbott dispatched a message Monday to President Barack Obama: Syrian refugees will be unwelcome in the Lone Star State.
“Given the tragic attacks in Paris and the threats we have already seen, Texas cannot participate in any program that will result in Syrian refugees – any one of whom could be connected to terrorism – being resettled in Texas,” Abbott, a Republican, said in a letter to Obama. “Effective today, I am directing the Texas Health & Human Services Commission’s Refugee Resettlement Program to not participate in the resettlement of any Syrian refugees in the State of Texas.”
Abbott’s refusal comes after Alabama’s governor, Robert Bentley, said Sunday he would bar Syrian refugees from relocating to his state after the Islamic State network claimed responsibility for a series of attacks on Nov. 13 in Paris that left 129 people dead. Michigan’s GOP Gov. Rick Snyder also said his state would decline Syrian refugees to his state.
“After full consideration of this weekend’s attacks of terror on innocent citizens in Paris, I will oppose any attempt to relocate Syrian refugees to Alabama through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program,” said Bentley, a Republican.
Obama said at a Monday news conference in Turkey refugees — including those from Syria, where Islamic State operatives have a stronghold — are subject to rigorous screenings and security checks.
“We also have to remember that many of these refugees are the victims of terrorism themselves,” Obama said. “That’s what they’re fleeing. Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values.”
Spokespersons for the National Governors Association and the Republican Governors Association did not immediately return requests for comment on whether they will take a position on the refugee situation.