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UPDATE: HIAS Joins 70 Texas Rabbis in Urging Gov. Abbott to Continue Welcoming Refugees

WASHINGTONTexas Governor Greg Abbott announced his intention to withdraw from the United States refugee resettlement program, although Texas has welcomed more refugees in recent years than any other state. In response to the governor’s decision, HIAS—one of nine refugee resettlement organizations in the country—sent a letter to Governor Abbott signed by 70 Texas rabbis in support of welcoming refugees and urging him to not withdraw from the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.

“Texas is a big state with a big heart and a history of welcoming refugees,” said HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield. “For HIAS, this history goes back to the late 1800s and the Galveston Movement, when Texas welcomed Jews who fled ethnic cleansing in czarist Russia. Today, with more refugees resettling in Texas than any other state, Governor Abbott announced he is breaking this tradition. Refugees will continue to be resettled to Texas, but without cooperation from the state. We are saddened by the false message Governor Abbott's decision sends to the world about Texas and about the United States, which have long traditions of welcoming refugees as a source of strength, not a cause for fear. HIAS stands firmly with the 70 Texas rabbis who are urging Governor Abbott and the state of Texas to continue welcoming refugees.”

The letter from the Texas rabbis reads, in part: “Since its founding, the United States has offered refuge and protection to the world’s most vulnerable…Our relatives and friends found safety in this country, and in the great state of Texas.” The full text of the letter is below.  

According to the governor’s announcement, on January 31, 2017, Texas will no longer accept federal money for serving refugees, nor will it provide refugees with the services they have been promised. Even if Texas withdraws from the program, non-federal agencies in Texas will continue to resettle refugees through an arrangement with the federal government. Governor Abbott’s decision means, however, that the state government in Texas will no longer uphold its commitment to delivering critical refugee services.

Click here for the full text of the letter.

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