AUSTIN, Texas – Texas’ efforts to halt the arrival of Syrian refugees have been blocked by a federal judge, who rejected Republican leaders’ claims that refugees pose an imminent risk or that states deserve a say in resettlements.
The ruling comes days after presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump called to block non-citizen Muslims from entering the U.S. following the Orlando nightclub massacre.
U.S. District Judge David Godbey, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, had previously knocked Texas for offering “largely speculative hearsay” about extremists possibly infiltrating Syrian refugees. His ruling, which was signed Wednesday, rejected arguments that the Obama administration is wrongly leaving states on the sidelines when resettling refugees, which is handled by the federal government.
“Today’s decision upholds and affirms America’s proud history in providing refuge for the world’s most vulnerable,” said Jennifer Sime, senior vice president of U.S. programs with the International Rescue Committee, which helps resettle refugees and was named in the lawsuit.
Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton did not immediately comment on the decision or whether the state would appeal.
Nearly 30 states vowed to ban Syrian refugees following the Paris attacks, which occurred in November and have been linked to the Islamic State group operating in Syria.
Texas mounted the most aggressive campaign from the start, suing the federal government, which failed to halt the arrival of 21 Syrian refugees in December.
The Obama administration says refugee vetting is rigorous and can take up to two years.
Trump, who has renewed his call for a temporary ban on Muslim immigrants, told supporters at Wednesday in Atlanta that the United States is taking in thousands of refugees when they “don’t think like us” and we don’t know “who the hell they are.”
Follow Paul J. Weber on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pauljweber