US judge denies Texas' latest efforts to block refugees

US judge denies Texas' latest efforts to block Syrian refugees from seeking asylum in country, says there is no imminent danger to public

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Internally displaced Syrians carry their belongings as they arrive at a refugee camp near the Bab al-Salam crossing, across from Turkey's Kilis province, on the outskirts of the northern border town of Azaz, Syria February 6, 2016

A federal judge again ruled against Texas in its efforts to stop the resettlement of Syrian refugees on Monday, in the latest of attempts by almost 30 states to give a halt to refugee intake to the country after deadly Paris attacks.

US District Judge David Godbey said that state officials have never shown an imminent danger to the public.

The decision is another setback for Republican leaders in Texas, which was the first state that sued the Obama administration over resettling families from Syria but has failed to halt or even slow the arrival of any new refugees.

Godbey, who in December knocked Texas for offering "largely speculative hearsay" about terrorists possibly infiltrating Syrian refugees, found it ironic that the state is demanding action from a judicial branch that Republican leaders often accuse of overreach.

Godbey wrote that Texas was asking a federal court "to stick its judicial nose into this political morass, where it does not belong absent statutory authorisation."

A spokeswoman for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the Republican is evaluating his next options.

"At a minimum, Texans deserve to know if the people moving into our communities and neighborhoods have a history of providing support to terrorists," spokeswoman Katherine Wise said.

Nearly 30 states vowed to ban Syrian refugees from the US following the Paris attacks in November that has been linked to DAESH.

Texas mounted the most aggressive campaign from the start by suing the federal government, but failed to halt the arrival of 21 Syrian refugees in December. Alabama filed a similar lawsuit in January.

The Obama administration says refugee vetting is rigorous and can take up to two years. In an 11-page ruling, Godbey wrote that "it is certainly possible that a Syrian refugee resettled in Texas could commit a terrorist act, which would be tragic."

But he said it is up to the federal government — and not courts — to decide that level of risk. Wise said Godbey acknowledged "the validity of our concerns" and says it is effectively up to Congress to give states a bigger voice when it comes to resettlements.

A resettlement group has asked that the lawsuit be dismissed.

TRTWorld, AP