U.S. Judge Again Denies Texas Request to Bar Syrian Refugees

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An internally displaced Syrian boy looks out from his tent at a refugee camp on the outskirts of a northern border town in Syria. U.S. legislators have expressed reservations about allowing Syrian refugees into the country. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas, Feb 9 – A U.S. judge denied for the second time a request by Texas to bar relief agencies from bringing Syrian refugees into the state, a decision that could have a bearing on the attempts of 30 other governors to block refugees from their states.

U.S. District Judge David Godbey said the Republican leaders who have fought the resettlement have not shown Texas would suffer irreparable harm. The same judge rejected in December the state’s request for a restraining order saying the evidence presented was “largely speculative hearsay.”

“The Court does not deny that the Syrian refugees pose some risk. That would be foolish,” Godbey wrote in the decision. “In our country, however, it is the federal executive that is charged with assessing and mitigating that risk, not the states and not the courts.”

Democratic President Barack Obama has pledged to take in 10,000 people fleeing war-torn Syria and has so far admitted 2,000 refugees. Europe is dealing with millions of refugees fleeing conflict in the Middle East and Africa.

After the Paris attacks in November, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, was one of the first of more than 30 U.S. governors who are seeking to block the resettlement of Syrians into their states.

Some legislators fear that Daesh, which claimed credit for the Paris attacks, will hide militants intent on carrying out more killings among the influx of refugees entering the United States.

The federal government has tightened visa waiver rules for visitors following the attacks in France that killed 130 people and immigration has become a flashpoint in the November presidential election in America.

Since the fiscal year 2011, 243 Syrian refugees have resettled in Texas, a U.S. court filing in December said, making the state one of the main U.S. relocation sites since the Syrian civil war erupted about five years ago.

Since Obama took office in January 2009, the most populous Republican-controlled state has filed suit against his administration 39 times on issues ranging from immigration to the environment to abortion.

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