The Obama administration’s handling of Syrian refugees and unaccompanied minors from Central America is reckless, abusive and possibly illegal, according to three top Texas officials.
“The administration continues settling Syrian refugees in our neighborhoods and communities under a cloak of secrecy,” charged Attorney General Ken Paxton.
“Last weekend the federal government settled refugees with no advance notice, in complete violation of a court’s directive, and were scheduled to bring more refugees to Texas without providing adequate information about who they are,” Paxton said. “The threat to our communities by foreign terrorists is real. The greater concern is not what we know about these refugees; it’s what we do not know.”
Texas sued the federal government on Dec. 2 in an effort to halt the relocation of refugees from Syria in the state because the Obama administration had not consulted with Texas authorities in advance, in violation of the Refugee Act of 1980.
With the state’s lawsuit pending, Washington directed at least one nonprofit resettlement agency in Texas not to disclose basic information that would help resolve the state’s security concerns.
Last month, federal agents arrested two refugees for activities allegedly connected to supporting terrorism. The arrests were in Houston and Oakland.
Paxton said the Obama administration “defied or misled a federal court on major immigration issues” on a previous occasion.
In March 2015, the White House admitted that tens of thousands of expanded work permits had been issued to unauthorized aliens, in contradiction to claims the administration made in federal court, Paxton said.
Gov. Greg Abbott, in a Fox News interview from Davos, Switzerland, decried Obama’s “illegal executive amnesty orders” on immigration.
“The Constitution vests Congress with the power to make immigration laws, not the president,” said Abbott, formerly Texas’ attorney general.
On Thursday, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, accused the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services of putting unaccompanied minors from Central America in harm’s way.
“Shockingly, Health and Human Services is releasing many of these children to sponsors who have been convicted of serious crimes, including human trafficking, sexual exploitation and violent offenses,” Cornyn said.
Citing a report by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Cornyn said that “instead of extensive background checks, thorough interviews and multiple home visits to make sure that a child is being placed in a safe and secure situation, the placement process for these migrant children is riddled with loopholes.”
The report noted the case of a Honduran youth who wound up in Texas.
The individual told HHS that he intended to live with his brother in Texas, but the brother could not act as a sponsor because he had no proof of identification.
“HHS considered a second individual as the sponsor, who was allegedly the [unaccompanied alien child’s] paternal cousin who lived with the UAC’s brother in a home owned by their mutual employer,” the report stated.
That placement was not approved because the second sponsor never fully completed a Family Reunification Application. HHS eventually placed the child with a “family friend” in Florida.
“The UAC and the sponsor had never met, but the sponsor told the care provider that she had ‘a good relationship with the minor’s family.’ No further explanation or verification of their relationship was included in the case file,” according to the report.
Cornyn has introduced legislation to require all potential sponsors of unaccompanied children to undergo a “rigorous biometric criminal history check.”
Kenric Ward writes for the Texas Bureau of Watchdog.org. Contact him at [email protected]. @Kenricward