Texas sues feds to block resettlement of Syrian refugees in Dallas

The state is suing the federal government and a local relief group to stop the resettlement of six Syrian refugees in North Texas this week.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday comes after the nonprofit International Rescue Committee defied orders from Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to halt the arrival of Syrian refugees in Texas following the November attacks in Paris.

Texas wants to delay the arrival of the refugees for at least a week, until a federal judge can hear the challenge.

The Obama administration has said states don't have the authority to block refugees. Abbott is among more than two dozen governors, mostly Republicans, who have vowed to keep new Syrian refugees from resettling in their states.

Abbott earlier Wednesday called the planned arrival irresponsible.

As of late Wednesday afternoon, Donna Duvin, executive director of the International Rescue Committee's Dallas office, hoped Gov. Greg Abbott would meet with the committee and federal officials to go over the vetting Syrian refugees undergo before resettlement.

“We're hoping that the depth of information the governor receives will persuade him to understand that the vetting is rigorous and it's very complete,” said Duvin.

The International Rescue Committee says it has resettled eight Syrian refugees in North Texas. Six more have plans to arrive this week to join family members.

Since the Paris attacks, Gov. Abbott has raised security concerns about Syrian refugees.

The International Rescue Committee said it anticipated being able to support its resettlement programs even while the state objects.

“I think we have a community that has shown through its outpouring of support that it's prepared to open up its doors and be quite generous in supporting people who have come into Texas and other areas of the country,” said Duvin.

The International Rescue Committee responded to the lawsuit Wednesday night, saying the IRC acts within the spirit and the letter of the law and "We are hopeful this matter is resolved soon.”

Meanwhile, the Syrian American Council, which is based in Washington, D.C., says it sent an invitation to Gov. Abbott, asking him to meet with a local refugee family from Syria.

As of Wednesday evening, it has not yet heard back.

It's also sent invitations to governors in other states, requesting similar bans on Syrian refugees.

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