Key moments in Texas' fight over Syrian refugees

AP News
|
Posted: Dec 07, 2015 1:30 AM

DALLAS (AP) — Texas became the first state to sue the federal government to halt the settlement of Syrian refugees, citing security concerns following deadly attacks on Paris on Nov. 13. Here is a timeline of events in Texas' battle with the U.S. government over refugee resettlement:

— Nov. 16: Gov. Greg Abbott announces on Twitter that "Texas will not accept any Syrian refugees & I demand the U.S. act similarly." The same day, the governor reiterates that in a letter to President Obama, citing security concerns following the Paris attacks three days earlier.

— Nov. 17: Abbott asks the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas Department of Public Safety to implement his directive to stop accepting Syrian refugees and to notify nonprofit refugee aid agencies, such as the International Rescue Committee.

— Nov. 19: The Texas Health and Human Services Commission, in a letter to IRC, demands information about the group's resettlement plans, instructs it to immediately discontinue any resettlement in Texas and informs it that the agency "will refuse to cooperate with the resettlement of any Syrian refugees in Texas."

— Nov. 25: The Texas health agency again writes IRC, claiming it has "been unable to achieve cooperation with your agency" because "your agency insists on resettling certain refugees from Syria in the near future."

— Nov. 30: IRC responds it is "committed to working in close cooperation with the highest levels of Texas State leadership" and notes it has worked in Texas for over 40 years "in a constructive partnership with state, local officials, and communities."

— Dec.1: Texas sends a letter to IRC, demanding it "halt resettlement of any Syrians seeking refugee status in Texas," and confirm by the next day that it will comply.

— Dec. 2: Texas Health and Human Services Commission seeks an injunction in federal court to stop IRC from settling six Syrians in the Dallas area, as scheduled for later in the week.

— Dec. 3-4: Twelve Syrian refugees arrive in New York; six who are destined for Dallas and six for Houston.

— Dec. 4: The federal government and the IRC respond in court to the Texas lawsuit, saying the state has no legal authority to block the resettlement of government-approved refugees. A Dallas IRC official said the group shared with Texas officials on Nov. 12 a spreadsheet noting that 200 to 250 Syrian resettlements were proposed for Texas for this fiscal year, disputing the state's claims it had not been consulted. The Texas attorney general later withdraws the state's request for a temporary restraining order.

—Dec. 7: Twelve Syrians are to join relatives in Dallas and Houston.