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Texas Formally Withdraws From Refugee Resettlement Program

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AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) -- The State of Texas has formally withdrawn from the federal government's refugee resettlement program.

Governor Greg Abbott wanted the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and DNI (Department of National Intelligence) to give assurances that refugees from Syria and "countries known to be supporters or propagators of terrorism" would not pose a security threat should they be resettled in Texas. Abbott said those departments could not give that assurance.

"Despite multiple requests by the State of Texas, the federal government lacks the capability or the will to distinguish the dangerous from the harmless, and Texas will not be an accomplice to such dereliction of duty to the American people," Abbott said last week when he initially announced the intention of Texas to withdraw.

Abbott also requested the number of refugees resettled in Texas would not exceed the original allocation in fiscal year 2016.

Governor Abbott's office released this statement Friday afternoon:

Texas has repeatedly requested that the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Director of National Intelligence provide assurances that refugees resettled in Texas will not pose a security threat, and that the number of refugees resettled in Texas would not exceed the State's original allocation in fiscal year 2016 – both of which have been denied by the federal government. As a result, Texas will withdraw from the refugee resettlement program. As governor, I will continue to prioritize the safety of all Texans and urge the federal government to overhaul this severely broken system. – Governor Greg Abbott

According to law, Texas must give 120 days' notice meaning its involvement will end on January 31, 2017. At that time, the federal government will have to find a non-profit group to run the program in Texas.

Catholic Charities of Dallas President and CEO, Dave Woodward said Friday, "We are concerned about the implications of the decision, but remain focused on how we can work with other partner organizations to best assist refugees in the next 120 days and beyond. We are confident there will be a plan put in place to ensure those in need receive help."

HAIS, another charity also involved in the settlement of refugees in Texas, expressed disappointment today in the state's decision.  President and CEO of that organization, Mark Hetfield said, "We are saddened by the false message Governor Abbott's decision sends to the world about Texas and about the United States, which have long traditions of welcoming refugees as a source of strength, not a cause for fear."

According to the HAIS web site, "Refugee resettlement lies at the heart of HIAS' work in the U.S., and we are the only Jewish organization designated by the federal government to undertake this humanitarian work."

Texas also wanted to stop any additional refugees from being resettled in the state during the next budget year but the federal government said they could not make that guarantee.

Last week, Abbott announced the intention of the state to withdraw if assurances were not met. "The federal government's refugee settlement program is riddled with serious problems that pose a threat to our nation. The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Director of National Intelligence have repeatedly declared their inability to fully screen refugees from terrorist-based nations," Abbott said last week.

"Even with the inability to properly vet refugees from Syria and countries known to be supporters or propagators of terrorism, President Obama is now ineptly proposing a dramatic increase in the number of refugees to be resettled in the U.S.," Abbott continued.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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