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Texas becomes first state to opt out of refugee resettlement under new Trump order

'Texas has been left by Congress to deal with disproportionate migration issues resulting from a broken federal immigration system'

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has told the Trump administration that he doesn't want his state to participate in the federal government's refugee resettlement program, making his state the first to opt out.

In a letter obtained by Blaze Media on Friday, Abbott told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that "Texas cannot consent to initial refugee resettlement" for fiscal year 2020, saying that the state already has enough on its plate to deal with.

"In addition to accepting refugees all these years, Texas has been left by Congress to deal with disproportionate migration issues resulting from a broken federal immigration system," Abbot's letter explains.

Additionally, he wrote 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."

Abbot also said that his decision does not stop any refugees from coming to the United States or stop refugees from later moving to Texas after being first settled in another state.

Under an executive order issued by President Donald Trump last year, states have to affirm in writing that they wish to opt in to the federal refugee resettlement program.

The order, which the White House announced in September says that, "with limited exceptions, the Federal Government, as an exercise of its broad discretion concerning refugee placement accorded to it by the Constitution and the Immigration and Nationality Act, should resettle refugees only in those jurisdictions in which both the State and local governments have consented to receive refugees under the Department of State's Reception and Placement Program."

At a rally in Minnesota in October, Trump touted the executive order, telling voters "You should be able to decide what is best for your own cities and for your own neighborhoods, and that's what you have the right to do right now."

Abbot's decision Friday contrasts with several of his fellow Republican governors who have called for more refugees to be resettlement in their states over the past few weeks. As of last week, the State Department had received letters from 18 Republican governors throughout the United States requesting refugee resettlement. There have also been questions about whether or not Georgia's Republican Gov. Brian Kemp will opt in to the program, as he has faced pressure from both sides of the debate.

This all comes ahead of the Jan. 21 deadline the State Department gave to governors to give notification about participation. As of Thursday, Voice of American reported that 40 states across the country had opted in.

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