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November 23, 2015

Tex. Tells Charities Not to Help Resettle Syrian Refugees

Texas officials have asked nonprofits in the state to scrap any efforts to assist refugees arriving from Syria, the Austin American-Statesman and Houston TV station KHOU report. The request from Chris Traylor, head of the state Health and Human Services Commission, followed Gov. Greg Abbott's pledge in the wake of the Nov. 13 Paris terrorist attacks to block Syrian refugees from coming to Texas.

Mr. Traylor sent a strongly worded letter Thursday to 19 Texas resettlement agencies seeking compliance with Mr. Abbott's directive by Friday afternoon. In a written response, Bee Moorhead of Texas Impact, a network of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim groups, said doing so would put refugee charities at risk of violating federal anti-discrimination laws and breaching government contracts.

Texas is among more than two dozen states that want to block the entry of Syrians fleeing that country's bloody fighting among Islamic State, government, and rebel forces, arguing that refugees could pose a terrorism threat. Refugee resettlement is primarily a federal matter, with states acting as conduits for U.S. funding to local, often faith-based nonprofits.

In a rare show of ideological unity, leaders of major national Catholic, evangelical, Protestant, and Jewish organizations have condemned the proposed bans on Syrian refugees, the Associated Press writes.