Texas has become the first state to opt out of resettling refugees via a new order signed by President Donald Trump –giving states the freedom to accept or decline new refugees.
Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas) notified the Trump administration of his choice for his state to forgo participating in the federal government’s refugee resettlement program for the 2020 fiscal year because Texas already has enough issues to contend with.
"Texas cannot consent to initial refugee resettlement," Abbot wrote Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a letter TheBlaze obtained on Friday.
He said United States citizens in need – along with existing immigrants in Texas – should take precedence over new arrivals from abroad.
"In addition to accepting refugees all these years, Texas has been left by Congress to deal with disproportionate migration issues resulting from a broken federal immigration system," Abbot added. "[T]he state and nonprofit organizations have a responsibility to dedicate available resources to those who are already here, including refugees, migrants and the homeless – indeed, all Texans."
He then stressed how his choice to opt out does not preclude any refugees from entering the U.S. – nor does it keep them from moving to the Lone Star State in the future after settling in a different state.
States know best
Last year, Trump issued an executive order that requires states to confirm in writing their desire to opt in to the refugee resettlement program administered by the federal government.
“In resettling refugees into American communities, it is the policy of the United States to cooperate and consult with State and local governments, to take into account the preferences of State governments, and to provide a pathway for refugees to become self-sufficient,” the White House announced in its order in September.” These policies support each other. Close cooperation with State and local governments ensures that refugees are resettled in communities that are eager and equipped to support their successful integration into American society and the labor force.”
The Trump administration made it clear that its policy is in accordance with the U.S. Constitution and federal law.
"[W]ith limited exceptions, the Federal Government – as an exercise of its broad discretion concerning refugee placement accorded to it by the Constitution and the Immigration and Nationality Act – should resettle refugees only in those jurisdictions in which both the State and local governments have consented to receive refugees under the Department of State's Reception and Placement Program."
In October, Trump told voters in Minnesota that they – not the federal government – should decide who does or doesn’t come in to their state while touting his executive order on refugee resettlement.
"You should be able to decide what is best for your own cities and for your own neighborhoods, and that's what you have the right to do right now", the president told the Minnesota crowd, according to USA Today.
But Abbot is an exception when it comes to giving states more authority concerning immigration – even within his own party.
“Abbot's decision Friday contrasts with several of his fellow Republican governors who have called for more refugees to be resettlement in their states over the past few weeks,” TheBlaze noted. “As of last week, the State Department had received letters from 19 Republican governors throughout the United States requesting refugee resettlement.”
Many are wondering if Georgia’s governor will be the next conservative to cave in to progressive’s pro-immigration agenda before the window to opt in closes in 10 days, as 80 percent of states have already opened their doors to refugees.
“There have also been questions about whether or not Georgia's Republican Gov. Brian Kemp will opt in to the program, as he has faced pressure from both sides of the debate,” theBlaze informed. “This all comes ahead of the Jan. 21 deadline the State Department gave to governors to give notification about participation. As of Thursday, Voice of American reported that 40 states across the country had opted in.”
Omar blasts Minnesotans for stemming tide of refugee influx
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) – a Somali refugee – condemned a county in northern Minnesota for exercising its right to opt out of participating in the federal refugee resettlement program – a choice made possible by Trump.
“Over 20 years ago, the state of Minnesota welcomed my family with open arms,” Omar tweeted Wednesday. “I never would’ve had the opportunities that led me to Congress had I been rejected. What Beltrami County is doing is denying refugees a chance at a better life.”
Becoming the first county in the state and the second state in the country to opt out, Beltrami County is believed to have put a hold on refugees in order to curb skyrocketing crime in the Minnesota since a large influx of Somali refugees began entering the state.
Those supporting the decision claim the county is merely exercising its rights – thanks to Trump.
Rep. Matt Grossell (R-Minn.) also appreciated the president giving states the ability to decide for themselves.
"President Trump empowered counties to have a voice in the decision-making process for the federal refugee resettlement program," Grossell told a local paper, according to Fox News. "Tonight, Beltrami County exercised that option."