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​U.S., aid group oppose Texas' efforts to block Syrian refugees

DALLAS - The U.S. government and an international humanitarian organization on Friday asked a judge to reject attempts by Texas to block Syrian refugees from resettling in the state.

New court documents reveal that 21 Syrian refugees are scheduled to be resettled in Dallas and Houston next week. Many of them are children younger than 13 and include grandparents and a single woman hoping to reunite with her mother who is already in Texas.

Texas governor threatens to sue groups helping Syrian refugees

The federal government and the nonprofit International Rescue Committee filed separate briefs in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The filings come after the Texas Health and Human Services Commission sought an injunction in Dallas on Wednesday seeking to stop IRC from bringing six Syrians to the city, citing security concerns.

Twelve of the refugees are arriving in Monday; six in Dallas and six and Houston. Nine others are scheduled to arrive in Houston on Thursday, according to the court filings.

Federal officials called Texas' fears over security unfounded and said siding with Texas would harm national interests that are determined by President Barack Obama.

Texas "has made no showing that these refugees pose any threat, much less an imminent one, to the safety or security of Texas residents or any other Americans," the Obama administration told the court.

Texas is the first U.S. state to ask a federal court to block the arrival of Syrian refugees following the deadly attacks in Paris in November, and its lawsuit comes two weeks after Gov. Greg Abbott ordered resettlement organizations in Texas to stop accepting Syrian refugees due to security concerns.

The White House has said states do not have the legal authority to block refugee placement and that would-be refugees undergo a rigorous vetting.

Texas "has made no showing that these refugees pose any threat, much less an imminent one, to the safety or security of Texas residents or any other Americans," the Obama administration told the court.

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In this Nov. 29, 2015 photo, Syrian refugee Mohammad word al Jaddou stands in front of his siblings (twins Maria, right, and Hasan) at their apartment in Dallas. Thirty-year-old al Bashar al Jaddou decided to leave Syria in 2012 after his family's home in Homs was bombed and there was nowhere safe left to live. LM Otero/AP

The refugees coming to Dallas include two children ages 3 and 6; their parents and grandparents. A second family scheduled to arrive in Houston, also on Monday, are four children aged from 2 to 13 years and their parents, according to court filings.

On Dec. 10, a Syrian family of eight is scheduled to be resettled in Houston, in addition to a 26-year-old woman whose mother already resides in the area.

In a statement announcing its own federal court filing, the International Rescue Committee reiterated its opposition to the Texas lawsuit.

"We are confident that the IRC has always acted in accordance with the law when it comes to our work to assist refugees who have been given sanctuary in Texas," the IRC statement said. "We have had a strong and collaborative relationship with the State for the past 40 years to the benefit of refugees and local communities."