Christian groups speak out as Texas Gov. Abbott refuses to resettle refugees in 2020

Tents are set up to provide shelter for migrants and asylum seekers inside of a warehouse in Tijuana, Mexico in June 2019. | World Relief

Christian leaders and organizations are speaking out after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott informed the U.S. State Department last week that he will not consent to the resettlement of refugees in the state in 2020.

Pursuant to President Donald Trump’s executive order last year giving state and local officials the authority to block refugee resettlement in their jurisdictions, Abbott became the first governor in the nation last Friday to refuse his consent for the resettlement of refugees this year.

Meanwhile, 42 other governors have offered their consent for refugee resettlement in their states.

Abbott argued that Texas has “carried more than its share in assisting the refugee resettlement process and appreciates that other states are available to help with these efforts.”

He stated that since 2010, Texas has resettled more refugees than any other state. Since that time, Texas has resettled about 10 percent of the refugees who have come to the U.S., he added. 

Additionally, he said the state has been left to deal with the country’s “disproportionate migration issues” as over 100,000 migrants were apprehended for crossing over the southern border into Texas in 2019. 

World Relief, an evangelical humanitarian nonprofit that is one of nine organizations authorized to resettle refugees in the U.S., expressed disappointment that Abbott “has chosen to close the state’s doors to refugees in 2020.”

“We have seen time and again the amazing contributions that refugees make in our neighborhoods, congregations and the local economy,” World Relief Fort Worth Director Troy Greisen said in a statement. “We grieve the families with members already resettled in Texas that will have to wait even longer to be reunited, and we grieve even more for the loss our communities will experience without their new members.”

Trump’s Sept. 26 executive order is the first time ever that the federal government will require state and local governments to provide consent in order for the federal government to resettle refugees in their jurisdictions. 

World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals, and the Evangelical Immigration Table spearheaded a joint effort last month to send letters to 15 governors that were signed by thousands of evangelicals. The letters encouraged the governors to provide their consent for refugee resettlement. 

A letter sent to Abbott on Dec. 9 was signed by over 340 Texas evangelicals.

World Relief President Scott Arbeiter said that Abbott’s decision was “out of step with “our heritage as Americans.”

“And most importantly, it’s out of step with…

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