Texas Stops Trying to Keep Out Syrian Families...for Now

Texas dropped its request for a restraining order against Syrian refugees, but it still doesn't really want them here.
Texas dropped its request for a restraining order against Syrian refugees, but it still doesn't really want them here.
Brian Stauffer

The State of Texas has withdrawn its request for a restraining order attempting to prevent Syrian refugees from resettling in Texas, according to court documents filed today. The withdrawal came minutes after the federal government filed a response to the state's original complaint, calling Texas's fears baseless and "uninformed" and urging the court to deny the state's request for a restraining order.

On Wednesday, Texas sued the federal government and a Dallas branch of the International Rescue Committee for going against Governor Greg Abbott's directive to close the state's borders to Syrians. The state also requested a restraining order to prevent the feds and the non-profit aid group from continuing to assist a Syrian refugee family scheduled to arrive in Dallas sometime this week. The state's lawsuit claimed there is "a substantial threat that irreparable injury will result" from the family's resettlement in Texas. The family is made up of a man and his wife, their 3- and 6-year old kids, and the man's parents.

The federal government responded to the lawsuit earlier today:

"Plaintiff has not demonstrated an imminent threat of irreparable harm. The Syrian refugees who are currently scheduled to for resettlement in Texas within the next two weeks (and none sooner than Monday, December 7) consist of displaced Syrian families—children, their parents, and in one case their grandparents—and a single woman who seeks to be reunited with her mother. Plaintiff has made no showing that these refugees pose any threat, much less an imminent one, to the safety or security of Texas residents or any other Americans. Finally, the harm to the national interest as determined by the President, and to the interests of the individual refugee families in question, outweigh Plaintiff’s speculative and uninformed fears about security. For these reasons, discussed in greater detail below, Plaintiff’s motion for a temporary restraining order should be denied."

The state withdrew its request for a restraining order almost immediately after the federal government filed the response. According to a press release from the Attorney General's office, Texas withdrew its request because "the federal government provided additional requested information regarding the first group of refugees set to arrive in Texas." Basically, now that Texas knows for sure that the Syrian family and their two little kids totally aren't terrorists, they'll let them in; apparently all Syrian refugees are terrorists in Texas' eyes until proven otherwise. 

According to the press release, the state plans to continue with the lawsuit, and court filings show the state has asked the court to set a preliminary injunction hearing before Wednesday next week. The federal government's initial response indicated the first Syrian family will arrive in Texas on Monday, along with another Syrian family with four children, ages 2 to 13. Then nine more Syrians are headed for Texas on Thursday, including six more children. In all, the federal government plans to resettle 21 Syrian refugees in Texas next week. 

Abbott is one of 31 state Governors who have said they would deny Syrian refugees from resettling in their state, even though it is widely accepted that states do not have the authority or enforcement power to do so. Abbott's directive followed the terrorist attacks in Paris which killed 130 people. None of the identified Paris attackers were Syrian nationals, and although one of them was found with a fake Syrian passport it is unknown if he entered Europe posing as a Syrian refugee. 

Despite facing criticism from conservative Republicans, President Barack Obama has maintained that the federal government's refugee vetting process is rigorous and effective, and has not backed down from the government's plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next year. 

Here's the federal government's full response:

And here's the state's withdrawal: 

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