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Texas Health and Human Services Commission seeks injunction against federal government over refugee resettlement

By Robbie Hargett | Dec 11, 2015


DALLAS (Legal Newsline) – A Texas agency is suing several federal government entities over claims they did not work closely enough with the state regarding the resettlement of Syrian refugees.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission filed a lawsuit Dec. 2 in the Dallas Division of the Northern District of Texas against the United States of America, the U.S. Department of State, Secretary of State John Kerry, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, et al., alleging violations of the Refugee Act of 1980.

The suit states Texas accepts about 10 percent, more than any other state, of all refugees resettled in the U.S.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission is responsible for the development and administration of refugee resettlement in the state.

According to its complaint, the commission sent a letter to the International Rescue Committee on Nov. 19, asking it to appraise the commission if the committee currently had plans to resettle Syrian refugees in Texas and stating that Texas will refuse to cooperate with the resettlement of any Syrian refugees until further notice.

This letter was sent after President Barack Obama announced a policy goal of admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees this fiscal year, a massive expansion of admitted Syrian refugees, which has caused some members of the federal executive branch to express concern, according to the agency's lawsuit.

The committee informed the commission that it intended to resettle six Syrian refugees in Dallas on Dec. 4. The commission asked the committee to temporarily halt resettlement, but the committee responded with its intention to continue working with the federal government to resettle Syrians in Texas, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that the defendants have failed to regularly consult with the commission regarding the intended distribution of refugees to Texas before placement in the state.

The commission seeks a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctions against the defendants, plus attorney fees.

The plaintiff is represented by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, First Assistant Attorney General Charles E. Roy, Deputy Attorney General for Legal Counsel Brantley Starr, Associate Deputy Attorney General for Special Litigation Austin R. Nimocks, General Litigation Division Chief Angela V. Colmenero, and Assistant Attorney General Adam N. Bitter.

Dallas Division of the Northern District of Texas Case number 3:15-CV-03851-N

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