The Latest: Judge rejects Texas' new effort to halt refugees

AP News
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Posted: Dec 09, 2015 7:08 PM

DALLAS (AP) — The latest on the arrival of Syrian refugees in Texas and Indiana (all times CST):

5:30 p.m.

A federal judge has swiftly denied revived efforts by Texas to halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the state.

U.S. District Judge David Godbey on Wednesday rejected the state's second request in as many weeks to turn back families from the war-torn country. Texas this time was trying to prevent nine Syrian refugees from arriving in Houston on Thursday.

Godbey said the state had submitted "speculative hearsay" in alleging that extremists could be among the refugees resettling in Texas.

Nearly 30 states have vowed to block Syrian refugees following the Paris attacks, but Texas is the only one that has sued the U.S. government in trying to make good on those pledges.

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed the lawsuit last week ahead of the first of 21 Syrian refugees that were on their way to Houston and Dallas. He backed off after the Obama administration responded in court that states don't have the authority to block resettlements.

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3:30 p.m.

Texas is again asking a federal judge to immediately halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees, this time before nine are scheduled to arrive in Houston.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed the request Wednesday. The Republican abruptly dropped a similar request last week after the Obama administration and ACLU responded in court that states don't have the authority to block refugees.

A dozen new Syrian refugees have already resettled in Texas this week. Nine others are due to arrive Thursday in Houston.

But Paxton says individuals with ties to terrorism have tried entering the U.S. through the refugee program, citing comments this week by Rep. Michael McCaul, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. The White House says refugee vetting is thorough.

Texas is among nearly 30 states that have vowed to keep out Syrian refugees since the Paris attacks.

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2:15 p.m.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana says it will proceed with its lawsuit seeking to block Gov. Mike Pence's order barring state agencies from helping with the resettlement of Syrian refugees.

Pence said Tuesday that he wouldn't stop the distribution of federal aid to Syrian refugees once they are settled in the state. But ACLU attorney Ken Falk said Wednesday that Pence's statements are at odds with the ACLU's understanding of the case.

Falk said there would be no need to sue if refugee assistance was not blocked. He also noted that lawyers for the state and the ACLU met with a federal judge and set a court date.

A statement issued by a spokesman for the Republican governor didn't directly address the ACLU's remarks.

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11:15 a.m.

A federal judge in Indianapolis has set a hearing for next month to consider a request to suspend Indiana Gov. Mike Pence's order that state agencies stop helping with the resettlement of Syrian refugees.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt on Tuesday scheduled the hearing for Jan. 15.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana is seeking a preliminary injunction to temporarily suspend Pence's move. It sued the Republican governor last month on behalf of Indianapolis-based nonprofit Exodus Refugee Immigration after Pence directed state agencies to stop using federal money to help resettle Syrian refugees. That money is used to provide services such as housing and medical care.

The lawsuit alleges Pence's action wrongly targets the refugees based on their nationality and violates the U.S. Constitution and federal law.

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1 a.m.

Resettlement agencies and volunteer groups assisting Syrian refugees are continuing their work even in states where officials have said those refugees aren't welcome.

Refugees arrived this week in Texas and Indiana, both states whose governors have said they reject Syrian refugees due to concerns they might pose a threat to public safety.

The International Rescue Committee settled a family of six in Dallas. Refugee Services of Texas facilitated the arrival of another couple and their four daughters in Houston. And the Roman Catholic archdiocese in Indianapolis announced it had brought in another Syrian family.

In Dallas, volunteers who regularly work with refugees say they've actually seen an uptick in donations and offers to help in the wake of more attention being paid to Syrian refugees.