A federal judge in Dallas has tossed out a Texas lawsuit that sought to block Syrian refugees from being settled in the state, ruling that Texas officials failed to make “a plausible claim for relief.”
U.S District Judge David Godbey agreed to dismiss the lawsuit at the urging of the Obama administration and the International Rescue Committee, a refugee resettlement group — both of which had been sued by Texas — in an order signed Wednesday.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he was disappointed in the decision, which followed previous rulings by Godbey to deny requests to block Syrian refugees over fears that new arrivals could include terrorists or those who sympathize with terrorist organizations.
“We are considering our options moving forward to guarantee the safety of Texans from domestic and foreign threats,” Paxton said.
A lawyer for the International Rescue Committee, Cecillia Wang with the American Civil Liberties Union, praised the ruling.
“This ruling is a strong rebuke of efforts to block refugee resettlement. It sends the clear message to other states that such attempts are not only un-American, they are contrary to the law and will fail in court,” said Wang, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.
In February, Godbey ruled that refugee policy was a political question that did not belong in the courts and that Paxton had failed to provide sufficient evidence showing that terrorists had infiltrated the refugee program.
The judge had come to a similar conclusion in December, when he declined Paxton’s request for an emergency order blocking the imminent arrival of nine Syrian refugees, including six children, saying Paxton’s concerns about terrorists were based on “largely speculative hearsay.”
Paxton continued pressing the lawsuit in an attempt to force the Obama administration to provide state officials with more-detailed information about arriving refugees.
State officials, however, lack the power to enforce the U.S. Refugee Act’s “advance consultation requirement,” Godbey ruled.
Timeline: Texas vs. Syrian refugees
Nov. 16: After terrorist attacks leave 130 dead in Paris, Gov. Greg Abbott tells the president by letter that Texas will no longer accept Syrian refugees.
Dec. 2: Attorney General Ken Paxton files a federal lawsuit to block Syrian refugees from settling in Texas.
Dec. 9: U.S. District Judge David Godbey rejects Paxton’s request for an emergency order blocking the arrival of nine Syrian refugees.
Feb. 8: Godbey again declines to block refugees, saying Paxton failed to prove a link to terrorists.
Thursday: Godbey formally dismisses Paxton’s lawsuit.
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