A federal judge Wednesday rejected Texas’ request to halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the state, saying that its evidence showing refugees as potentially dangerous was “largely speculative hearsay.” This was Texas’ second attempt to get a temporary restraining order against refugees after it dropped a similar request last Friday.
Republican Texas Attorney General Kenneth Paxton filed the latest request Wednesday saying there was new “evidence” that the refugees were a possible danger. He quoted public comments from Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, who said federal counterterrorism authorities indicated that people with connections to terrorists have tried infiltrating the U.S. refugee program, the Associated Press reported. Paxton added that Texas law enforcement officials also expressed concerns about refugee selection.
U.S. District Judge David Godbey responded to Paxton’s arguments saying that while the court understands the terrorism risks, Texas failed to show "competent evidence" that the latest batch of refugee arrivals has plans to cause harm.
“The commission has failed to show by competent evidence that any terrorists actually have infiltrated the refugee program, much less that these particular refugees are terrorists’ intent on causing harm. The Court finds that the evidence before it is largely speculative hearsay,” Judge Godbey wrote in the two-page ruling.
Texas officials have accused the U.S. government of disregarding its obligations to consult with local authorities about the resettlement of refugees. The request was filed Wednesday, a day before a family of eight Syrian refugees, including six children aged 6 to 15, was set to reach Houston.
The Justice Department said last Friday that the refugees expected to arrive in Texas “consist of displaced Syrian families -- children, their parents, and in one case their grandparents -- and a single woman who seeks to be reunited with her mother.”
Last week, Texas dropped its request for a temporary restraining order to stop the resettlement of 21 Syrian refugees in the state, saying the U.S. government provided the information it required on the group. The U.S. Justice Department had responded saying the state did not have the authority to act on national immigration policy and could not stop the refugees from moving in.
After the Paris attacks in November, Texas authorities have been vocal about their opposition to the refugee resettlement program. Texas was among 30 states in the country that vowed not to let Syrian refugees through their borders.