Texas became the only state to opt out of refugee resettlement on Friday, January 10, 2020, when Governor Abbott sent a letter to President Trump with his decision.
Immediately the Texas bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America expressed disappointment in a letter to the governor.
Roman Catholic bishops in Texas also denounced the decision.
Last November I met with Governor Abbott’s staff along with the HR Director for the Hyatt Regency, a Houston refugee from Congo, an Austin attorney, and the Director of the IRC (International Rescue Committee) in Abilene.
On January 14 Krish Vignarajah and I wrote an op ed that was published by the Houston Chronicle calling for the religious freedom to resettle refugees. We called upon the best of Texas. Krish Vignarajah is President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, on whose board I sat the last six years, and chaired the last three.
We view this as a sad, an unconstitutional decision. Refugee resettlement is in the hands of the federal government, not state governments. This also is an infringement of religious freedom. LIRS filed a lawsuit. For the time being, a judge has temporary injunction on the governor’s decision. This will certainly be appealed.