US District Court Judge David Godbey on Monday rejected [order, PDF] a Texas lawsuit seeking to halt the federal resettlement of Syrian refugees in the state. The federal judge ruled that Texas officials had failed to show a “substantial threat of irreparable injury” in the request for an injunction to stop further Syrian refugee resettlement. The lawsuit was filed [complaint, PDF] against the Obama administration after the terrorist attacks in Paris. The Texas government argued that terrorists could infiltrate the refugees and commit acts of terrorism within Texas. Godbey, however, rejected that position:
The Court does not deny that the Syrian refugees pose some risk. That would be foolish. In our country, however, it is the federal executive that is charged with assessing and mitigating that risk, not the states and not the courts. It is certainly possible that a Syrian refugee resettled in Texas could commit a terrorist act, which would be tragic. The Court, however, cannot interfere with the executive’s discharge of its foreign affairs and national security duties based on a possibility of harm, but only on a proper showing of substantial threat of irreparable injury and a legal right to relief. The Commission, again, has failed to carry its burden.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott is one of more than 30 governors who have said that they would oppose the resettlement of Syrian refugees in their states. So far the only other state to sue the federal government is Alabama.
The rights of migrant populations has emerged as one of the most significant humanitarian issue around the world, as millions seek asylum from conflict nations. In November, Indiana Governor Mike Pence was sued [JURIST report] over refusing to accept Syrian refugees. Earlier that month UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed [JURIST report] the UN General Assembly and cautioned the international community to avoid discrimination against Muslims, especially refugees and migrants entering Europe, as a result of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris a week earlier. Earlier that month Amnesty International analyzed [JURIST report] the EU’s approach to the refugee crisis and recommends changes to ensure international law is followed and human rights are appropriately valued. In October Human Rights Watch called on [JURIST report] the EU and Western Balkans states to focus on remedying what it characterized as deplorable conditions for asylum-seekers in Europe. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights gave the opening statement [JURIST report] at the 30th session of the Human Rights Council in September in which he addressed, among other pressing human rights issues, the migrant crisis. Germany announced [JURIST report] that month that it was invoking temporary border controls at the nation’s southern border with Austria, after thousands of immigrants entered the country.