President Trump previously signed an executive order allowing states to opt out of the national Refugee Resettlement Program. It’s a system designed to assist refugees who are accepted into the United States in finding a place to live and connect them with various public services and charitable organizations that are able to help them get started. Up until now, none of the nation’s governors had chosen to drop out of the program, including the Republicans. But that changed this week when Texas Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter to the State Department informing them that the Lone Star State would be taking a pass on the program, at least for the time being. (Daily Caller)
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday that his state will not accept refugees in a letter obtained by the Daily Caller.
The Trump administration has given states the option to opt out of a refugee resettlement program, but Texas is the first state to announce they will not participate in the program. 18 Republican governors have already opted into the program.
The governor praised his state’s history of accepting refugees, but said that he does not feel Texas should participate in the program, citing the current immigration crisis.
You can read Abbott’s full letter at the link above, but there’s nothing particularly remarkable about it. He’s not slamming the resettlement program, nor is he looking to impose some sort of ban on new refugees in Texas. He’s simply pointing out that between refugees, asylum seekers and a massive number of illegal aliens, Texas has already done more than its fair share, particularly in recent years, in terms of new arrivals finding places to live in the United States.
He also goes to great lengths to point out that once refugees have been initially settled in other states and gotten themselves established, there’s nothing preventing them from seeking to relocate to Texas if opportunities present themselves. It seems like a fair compromise.
Of course, we would be somewhat disingenuous if we tried to completely ignore the political component in this decision. When any state takes in massive numbers of new immigrants, particularly from Mexico and South America, a majority of them tend to wind up being successfully courted by the Democratic Party. These shifting demographics are already threatening to turn Texas blue at some point down the line. Abbott obviously sees the self-defeating nature of continuing to participate in a program that only accelerates the process.
What seems more surprising, at least to me, is the fact that it took this long for any Republican governors to accept the President’s invitation to drop out. In fact, we’ve so far had 18 GOP governors go the opposite way and specifically state that they will remain in the resettlement program. (You can see a list of them here.) Some of the names aren’t all that surprising since they come from purple or blue states that don’t typically absorb as much of the brunt of illegal immigrant inflow. Those include the governors of Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont. But there are some deep red states on the list also, like North Dakota, West Virginia, Missouri and Utah. (To be fair, North Dakota kind of makes sense since they can’t find enough workers to fill all the jobs in the oil fields.)
In any event, there doesn’t seem to be any course of appeal to this decision so it’s likely a done deal. Abbott will no doubt be labeled a racist by Democrats for choosing this course, but as long as he’s the one in the Governor’s Mansion, he’ll be calling the shots. And he can always join back into the program later if he changes his mind.