Texas officials are escalating their opposition to Syrian refugees with a new order aimed specifically at resettlement groups that have indicated they will accept people fleeing the war-torn country: change your mind or risk getting sued by the state.
Texas health commissioner Chris Traylor issued the first lawsuit threat over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in a letter to the Dallas branch of the International Rescue Committee, which said earlier this month that it supports accepting Syrian refugees.
“We have been unable to achieve cooperation with your agency,” Traylor wrote in the letter, which was released to the Houston Chronicle, adding that, “Failure by your organization to cooperate with the State of Texas as required by federal law may result in the termination of your contract with the state and other legal action.”
Similar letters are expected to be sent to any refugee resettlement group that takes a similar position against Gov. Greg Abbott.
Bee Moorhead, executive director of Texas Impact, a faith-based organization that has ties to refugee groups and has expressed concern about Abbott’s position, decried the letter in an interview with the Chronicle.
“This letter should raise serious concerns for refugees currently receiving assistance in Texas, and also for legislators – who should be asking what fiscal impact the Texas Health and Human Services Commission could be bringing down on the state through its increasingly contentious communications,” Moorhead said. “The health commission interacts collegially and effectively every day with multiple federal agencies, so it’s astonishing to see these kinds of communications coming from the agency.”
See here, here, and here for the background, and see the Chron story for a copy of the letter. I continue to be utterly gobsmacked by this. Again, these are faith-based organizations that Abbott is blithely threatening to sue. We all know how this would play out if the federal government were doing something like this, right? I mean, we’re all familiar with the apocalyptic rhetoric surrounding the contraception mandate. At what point does the Catholic Church in Texas quit pussyfooting around and condemn Abbott for this in no uncertain terms? That might loosen things up a bit. Beyond that, I still have no idea how this ends. Trail Blazers, the Press, and the Current have more.