After legal fight, 21 Syrian refugees to arrive in Texas

AP News
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Posted: Dec 07, 2015 2:43 PM

DALLAS (AP) — Twelve Syrian refugees were scheduled to arrive in Texas on Monday after the state eased up in its legal fight against resettlement agencies and the federal government.

The refugees, including six children, were expected to join relatives already settled in Dallas and Houston. Another nine refugees are scheduled to arrive in Houston Thursday.

State officials fought for weeks to stop them, saying Syrian refugees posed an unacceptable security risk after the deadly Nov. 13 Paris attacks.

But two days after suing one resettlement agency, the International Rescue Committee, and federal officials, the state on Friday withdrew its request for an order immediately stopping the refugees from entering Texas. The lawsuit remains pending, and a judge could hear arguments in the case this week.

Texas took in nearly 250 Syrians before the Paris attacks. Federal officials said in court filings that they plan to resettle as many as 250 Syrians in Texas during the current fiscal year.

Governors in about 30 states since the attacks have said they don't want to accept any more refugees, though none have fought as hard as Texas. Advocates say connecting refugees to fears of terrorism is misguided, and federal officials say states don't have the power to refuse them.

The refugees expected in Texas include a family of six related to people already settled in the Dallas area. The family arrived in New York on Thursday night and stayed there through the weekend after originally being expected to go directly to Texas.

The family is expected to take an apartment in the same complex as several other Syrians. The lower-income complex in northeast Dallas is home to recent arrivals from around the world. Volunteers have collected furniture, hygiene products and other items for the apartment — including a bicycle each for the two children in the family.

Meanwhile, eight Syrians who turned themselves over to immigration authorities at the U.S.-Mexico border have passed their first hurdle to seeking asylum but remain detained in Texas.

Lawyers representing the two families— two men, two women and four children— say the Syrians have passed their credible fear interviews and have undergone background checks that show they don't pose a danger. However, the attorneys say the families have not been released because of "law enforcement interest."

The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately return a message Monday seeking more details on the immigrants, who turned themselves in last month in Laredo.

These asylum seekers are not counted among the 85,000 refugees announced earlier this year by the Obama administration, which includes about 10,000 Syrians. For Syrians with means, a lengthy trek to the U.S. border could provide another path to asylum.