Abbott (Of Course) Vows Not to Let Syrians Into Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott has already let President Barack Obama know that Texas won't be taking any Syrian refugees.
Gov. Greg Abbott has already let President Barack Obama know that Texas won't be taking any Syrian refugees.
Photo by Gage Skidmore

Well, that didn't take long. 

In the wake of the stunning terrorist attacks on Paris last Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott has already taken a firm position on the Syrian refugee crisis, writing to President Barack Obama that Texas isn't going to let the doings of one extremist group color its actions concerning the hundreds of thousands of refugees that are trying to flee war-torn Syria after more than four years of a brutal civil war. 

Just kidding. 

In fact, Abbott did write the president a strongly worded letter on Monday, but the letter was saying exactly what you would expect Abbott to say about the question of Syrian refugees coming to the Lone Star State: He's not having it. 

Abbott pointed out that at least one of the people involved in the Paris attacks reportedly got into the country along with the stream of actual refugees that have been fleeing the devastation in Syria. He also observed that FBI Director James Comey told Congress that the federal government doesn't have enough information to conduct background checks on Syrian nationals to make sure they aren't affiliated with ISIS.

On top of that, Abbott contends in his letter that Texas is actually a prime ISIS target, stating that:

The threat posed to Texas by ISIS is very real. ISIS claimed credit last May when two terrorist gunmen launched an attack in Garland, Texas. Less than two weeks later, the FBI arrested an Iraqi-born man in North Texas and charged him with lying to federal agents about traveling to Syria to fight with ISIS. And in 2014, when I served as Texas attorney general, we participated in a Joint Terrorism Task Force that arrested two Austin residents for providing material support to terrorists - including ISIS

(It's worth noting that ISIS claimed responsibility for the Garland shooting, but never offered proof, according to CNN. On the flip-side, there has also been a disproportionate number of Texans who have gone to fight for the Islamic State, according to Foreign Policy. Also, despite Abbott's determination, the Texas borders are famously porous, as he's repeatedly pointed out, so the dreaded refugees will probably be here before we know it anyway.)

Abbott stated that he has ordered the Texas Health & Human Services Commission's Refugee Resettlement Program not to participate in any resettlement program for Syrian refugees. He also urged Obama to abandon plans to allow Syrian refugees into the United States at all, warning that this could allow terrorists posing as refugees to exploit "American humanitarian compassion" and conduct similar terrorist attacks on American soil. 

Abbott isn't alone in taking this approach to Syrian refugees. So far the governors of Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Michigan, Alabama and Arkansas — all Republicans — have joined Abbott. Since this is rapidly becoming a political stance, the odds are good that more GOP governors will come down on the anti-Syrian-immigrant side of things. 

It's a predictable move. There are currently 31 Republican governors in the United States and we wouldn't be surprised if  they all slam the door on the Syrian refugees in the coming days. 

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