Texas Gov. Greg Abbott notified Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week that his state will no longer accept any more refugees - a decision that has roiled some Catholic bishops.
Abbott told Pompeo that “the state and nonprofit organizations have a responsibility to dedicate available resources to those who are already here, including refugees, migrants and the homeless - indeed, all Texans.”
The Associated Press reports that Texas has taken in an estimated 88,300 refugees since FY 2002, according to the Pew Research Center, second only to California.
The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops issued a statement on Friday, saying the governor’s decision “is deeply discouraging and disheartening.”
“While the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops respects the governor, this decision is simply misguided. It denies people who are fleeing persecution, including religious persecution, from being able to bring their gifts and talents to our state and contribute to the general common good of all Texans,” the group said in a statement.
“The refugees who have already resettled in Texas have made our communities even more vibrant. As Catholics, an essential aspect of our faith is to welcome the stranger and care for the alien. We use this occasion to commit ourselves even more ardently to work with all people of good will, including our federal, state and local governments, to help refugees integrate and become productive members of our communities,” they added.
In addition to the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, state Rep. Vicki Goodwin, a Democrat,expressed disappointment with the decision, saying, “An unprecedented amount of people are experiencing displacement in today’s world due to political and economic instability and conflict, and we should welcome them to Texas with open arms.”
“With the strength of our economy and our people, we have ample resources to help refugees — it is our moral obligation to do so," she wrote in a letter to Abbott last week.
Refugee Services of Texas echoed that sentiment.
Russell Smith, CEO of the group, said his group is “surprised and very disappointed” with the decision, “because of how important the refugee resettlement program is to so many different aspects of the economic development of our state.”