BALTIMORE – Today, Governor Greg Abbott of Texas officially withheld his consent to resettle refugees in Texas in FY2020. Unlike previous years, the refugee ceiling for FY2020 was announced at the end of September paired with an executive order requiring both state and local authorities to consent to resettle refugees in their jurisdictions. Consenting to resettle refugees does not guarantee that refugees will be resettled in those areas; rather, it allows families and individuals to be resettled there upon arrival into the U.S.
“We are disappointed that Governor Abbott has chosen to close the state’s doors to refugees in 2020,” commented World Relief Fort Worth Director Troy Greisen. “We have seen time and again the amazing contributions that refugees make in our neighborhoods, congregations and the local economy. We grieve the families with members already resettled in Texas that will have to wait even longer to be reunited, and we grieve even more for the loss our communities will experience without their new members.”
World Relief and the Evangelical Immigration Table sent letters to 15 governors from 2,669 evangelical leaders asking they provide consent to refugee resettlement. The letter sent to Governor Abbott included over 340 signatures from Texas evangelicals.
“This action by Governor Abbott is out of step with other governors around the country, including 19 Republican governors, who have said they welcome refugees to their state,” said World Relief President Scott Arbeiter. “It’s out of step with our heritage as Americans. And most importantly, it’s out of step with our Christian prerogative to care for those in need and the stranger. We have been grateful for the leadership Texas has historically shown as a welcoming community and are deeply saddened that they are now choosing to abdicate that role, instead closing their door to refugees altogether. We urge the remaining eight governors who have not yet issued their consent to resettle refugees to consider doing so quickly.”
To date, 42 governors have issued their consent to resettle refugees in their states, and 86 local officials have similarly requested refugees in FY2020. The remaining governors and local entities have until January 21st to provide consent, at which time resettlement agencies must submit funding requests to the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration for FY2020.
For more information about how you can help, World Relief’s refugee resettlement work and other projects, visit worldrelief.org.