Texas sues U.S., relief agency, to block Syrian refugees

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Texas Sues to Stop Syrian Refugees From Living in Dallas


A Texas state agency sued the U.S. State Department, a relief agency and others in federal court on Wednesday, seeking to block the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the state just ahead of a plan to bring a new group of Syrians within a week.

The International Rescue Committee is set to relocate two Syrian refugee families to Texas in the coming days despite a threat from state officials that such a move would be reckless and met with a cut in funding for the agency.

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The Texas Health and Human Services Commission sued, asking the U.S. District Court in Dallas for an immediate restraining order and a hearing by Dec. 9 for an injunction that would prevent resettlement. It is also asking that refugees not be resettled until then.

The suit names U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the U.S. State Department and others as defendants. Texas is seeking an injunction to halt the resettlement because the state contends the defendants are violating their "statutory duty" to consult with the State in advance of placing refugees in Texas.

The International Rescue Committee was not immediately available for comment.

Texas Attorney General Ken 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."

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Texas sues U.S., relief agency, to block Syrian refugees
An elderly refugee walks to past the Greek-Macedonian border as tents with stranded migrants are seen in no-man's land near the northern Greek village of Idomeni, Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. Macedonia toughened rules for crossings earlier this month, in the wake of the deadly Paris attacks, restricting access to citizens from countries typically granted asylum in Europe, including Syria and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
Refugees wait to cross the Greek-Macedonian border near the northern Greek village of Idomeni, Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. Macedonia toughened rules for crossings earlier this month, in the wake of the deadly Paris attacks, restricting access to citizens from countries typically granted asylum in Europe, including Syria and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
A Yazidi refugee family from Iraq cries while resting on the seashore shortly after arriving on a vessel from the Turkish coast to the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015. About 5,000 migrants are reaching Europe each day along the so-called Balkan migrant route, stoking tensions among the countries along the migrant corridor including Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
Refugees disembark from a vessel after their arrival from the Turkish coast to the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015. About 5,000 migrants are reaching Europe each day along the so-called Balkan migrant route, as the refugee crisis is stoking tensions among the countries on the Balkan migrant corridor including Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
A man kneels before a Macedonian police officer in an effort to cross the border, near the northern Greek village of Idomeni, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015. Scores of migrants stranded at Greeceâs northern border have clashed with police while trying to force their way into Macedonia. Macedonia toughened rules for migrant crossings earlier this month, restricting access to citizens from countries typically granted asylum in Europe, including Syria and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
Macedonian policemen raise their shields during clashes with migrants attempting to cross the Greek-Macedonian border, near the northern Greek village of Idomeni, on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015. Scores of migrants stranded at Greeceâs northern border have clashed with police while trying to force their way into Macedonia. Macedonia toughened rules for migrant crossings earlier this month, restricting access to citizens from countries typically granted asylum in Europe, including Syria and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
Migrants approach the coast of the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos on a dinghy as a group of Spanish volunteer lifeguards help them, on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015. About 5,000 migrants are reaching Europe each day along the so-called Balkan migrant route, stoking tensions among the countries along the migrant corridor including Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
A migrant uses a blanket to warm, as he waits in no man's land to be allowed to pass the Greek-Macedonian border, near the northern Greek village of Idomeni, on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015. Migrants stranded at the border have been protesting for days, as several of them have started a hunger strike, after Macedonia and other Balkan countries toughen criteria for migrants and asylum seekers hoping to travel across the region to northern Europe. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
A Yazidi refugee woman from Iraq holds her child shortly after arriving on a vessel from the Turkish coast to the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015. About 5,000 migrants are reaching Europe each day along the so-called Balkan migrant route, as the refugee crisis is stoking tensions among the countries on the Balkan migrant corridor including Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
A vessel used by migrants to cross the Aegean sea from the Turkish coast remains on the Greek island of Lesbos, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015. About 5,000 migrants are reaching Europe each day along the so-called Balkan migrant route, as the refugee crisis stokes tensions among the countries on the Balkan migrant corridor including Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
Macedonian policemen clash with migrants at the Greek-Macedonian border, near the northern Greek village of Idomeni, on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015. Scores of migrants stranded at Greeceâs northern border have clashed with police while trying to force their way into Macedonia. Macedonia toughened rules for migrant crossings earlier this month, restricting access to citizens from countries typically granted asylum in Europe, including Syria and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
An Iraqi refugee holding her child waits for other family members on the seashore shortly after arriving on a vessel from the Turkish coast to the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015. About 5,000 migrants are reaching Europe each day along the so-called Balkan migrant route, as the refugee crisis is stoking tensions among the countries on the Balkan migrant corridor including Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
Migrants try to remove a fence at the Greek-Macedonian border, near the northern Greek village of Idomeni, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015. Scores of migrants stranded at Greeceâs northern border have clashed with police while trying to force their way into Macedonia. Macedonia toughened rules for migrant crossings earlier this month, restricting access to citizens from countries typically granted asylum in Europe, including Syria and Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
Iraqi refugees disembark from a vessel after their arrival from the Turkish coast to the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015. About 5,000 migrants are reaching Europe each day along the so-called Balkan migrant route, stoking tensions among the countries along the migrant corridor including Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
Life Jackets and a boat used by refugees and migrants to cross a part of the Aegean sea from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos remain on a beach, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015. About 5,000 migrants reaching Europe each day over the so-called Balkan migrant route. The refugee crisis is stoking tensions among the countries on the so-called Balkan migrant corridor â Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia. (AP Photo/Santi Palacios)
An elderly migrant stands behind a fence, as Pakistani migrants protest demanding to be allowed to pass the Greek-Macedonian border, near the northern Greek village of Idomeni, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015. Migrants stranded at the border have been protesting for days, as several of them have started a hunger strike, after Macedonia and other Balkan countries toughen criteria for migrants and asylum seekers hoping to travel across the region to northern Europe. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
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After the Paris attacks in November, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, was one of the first of more than 30 U.S. governors seeking to block the resettlement of Syrians into their states.

Abbott has said he was concerned that U.S. security screening is ineffective and could allow people with ties to terrorism to be admitted.

Multiple federal government security agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation participate in the screening process of refugees, which can take 18-24 months, according to the State Department.

Refugee advocates have said the governors have no legal power to exclude entry based on a person's nationality to anyone in the United States legally.

They have also argued that the governors, mostly Republicans, are targeting those who are overwhelmingly victims rather than perpetrators of violence in Syria.

Texas has housed 180 Syrian refugees since Syria's civil war began in 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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