Texas suffered another loss in its attempts to block Syrian refugees from entering the state when a federal judge in Dallas on Thursday dismissed motions filed by the state to halt resettlement of refugees by a private relief agency.
U.S. District Judge David Godbey ruled the U.S. government, not individual states, has the authority to set immigration policy, and found that Texas brought no plausible argument to back its claims that the International Rescue Committee relief agency was unlawful in bringing Syrian refugees into the state.
Texas has been trying to stop the organization from bringing refugees into the state since December, when it filed its first suit in federal court in response to the group's plan to resettle six refugees fleeing Syria's civil war.
Texas has lost a series of court decisions since then to halt the restatement.
After the November attacks by Islamic State militants in Paris, Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott was one of the first of more than 30 U.S. state governors, mostly Republicans, seeking to block the resettlement of Syrian refugees into their states, citing security concerns.
"This ruling is a strong rebuke of unconstitutional efforts to block refugee resettlement," said Cecillia Wang, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants' Rights Project and lead counsel for the International Rescue Committee,
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission had argued that the federal government and the relief agency violated their statutory duty under a law called the U.S. Refugee Act to consult with the state in advance of placing refugees in Texas.
"The Court previously determined that the Refugee Act does not confer a private right of action for the States to enforce its provisions," Godbey wrote.
The Texas attorney general's office was not immediately available for comment.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Additional reporting by Lisa Maria Garza in Dallas; Editing by Will Dunham)