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“This is a departure from an American spirit of helping refugees” – Leading Voices Condemn TX Governor Abbott for Refugee Decision

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“Abbott is a coward and diminishes Texas’ history and tradition as big, proud and confident enough to welcome refugees”

Leading observers are blasting Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for siding with nationalist White House advisor Stephen Miller and turning his back on refugees and the state’s best interests and traditions. Among the litany of voices criticizing the news:

Houston’s mayor, Sylvester Turner (D), said, “Regardless of where someone is from, who they are, or what they believe, there is a home for them in Houston. Our welcoming spirit has led to our city becoming the national leader in refugee resettlement. We remember Exodus 22:21, ‘Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner.’ ”

Mark Hetfield, President and CEO of HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), said: “Texas has a long and proud history of welcoming refugees, including many Jews who found safety in Texas after fleeing religious persecution. Our faith and our traditions guide us to welcome the stranger. Today’s shameful decision by Governor Abbott flies in the face of this welcoming tradition and Texas’ reputation for being big, bold and hospitable.”

Two of Texas’ most widely-circulated newspapers also offered searing rebukes of Abbot’s decision:

The Dallas Morning News editorial board said, “This is a departure from an American spirit of helping refugees fleeing war and persecution, whether from Vietnam, Cuba, Africa or beyond… His decision has the potential to throw the American refugee resettlement program into chaos and sow yet more discord among ‘red’ and ‘blue’ states.”

In a poignant rebuttal to the Governor, the Houston Chronicle said, “Asylum-seekers and refugees are some of the most heavily vetted individuals who ever seek a home in the United States. As [Abbott] noted, Texas has long been a leader in welcoming refugees. In fact, in recent years more refugees have resettled in Houston and Texas than any other city or state in the country… His decision also deprives cities like Houston of the new residents who might have helped our city grow and prosper, as so many refugees in the past have.”

Prominent religious voices have also expressed outrage at Abbot’s policy:

The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops issued a joint statement saying, “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.”

Rev. John L. McCullough, the president of Church World Service said in a statement, “This decision will devastate refugee communities, lead to family separation for refugee families and leave refugees, former refugees and United States citizens without supportive services.”

Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service issued a statement saying, “Historically, Texas has served as a beacon of hope for refugees from across the globe, having resettled the highest number of any state. It is shameful that the state is once again trying to illegally reverse this legacy of welcome and compassion now.”

Katie Adams, Domestic Policy Advocate at United Church of Christ and Co-Chair of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, responded: “Threaded through our sacred scripture is the ever-present message to love our neighbor and welcome the sojourner. Closing that welcome and denying the opportunity to love our neighbor flattens the good news of the gospel into mere words, not the living, breathing gospel of Jesus.”

According to America’s Voice Texas State Director Mario Carillo:

Greg Abbott is a coward and diminishes Texas’ history and tradition as big, proud, and confident enough to welcome refugees. Texas has historically been welcoming to refugees but now he’d rather just cow-tow to Stephen Miller and Donald Trump. Once again, the Governor has put GOP party politics ahead of the needs of Texans. Refugees and their families make important contributions to the state and no major city in Texas has or will refuse to take more refugees. Abbott’s decision goes against American ideals, and exposes him for what he is: a bigot that just sees any non-Americans as people that need to be kept out.