Rebecca Lightsey, Executive Director of Austin-based American Gateways, which provides legal assistance to immigrants in 23 Central Texas counties, commented Thursday on news reports that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has decided against continuing to let refugees from abroad settle in Texas:
“Texas has long led the nation in welcoming refugees from other countries. If recent out-of-state accounts are accurate–and we hope they’re not–Gov. Abbott has decided to discontinue the state’s acceptance of refugees. This would amount to a whopping blow to people who need our help the most. We’d urge the governor to decide otherwise. Be Texas friendly.”
Lightsey was referring to news stories describing Abbott’s decision posted by Christianity Today and The Washington Times. Those stories say that 41 states, though not Texas, have committed to continuing to accept refugees from abroad.
If Texas opts out of accepting refugees from abroad, it will also have a negative impact on the state’s economy. Texas will lose approximately $17 million in federal funds, which are given to support refugees who have resettled in the state. That would be $17 million less going into Texas economy. The loss of this money will also impact local governments and school districts. Many local governments in Texas have shown support for resettling refugees and have urged Gov. Abbott to not opt out of the program.
Lightsey added, “While refugees provide economic benefits to our state and local communities, they also provide so much more. Refugees have fled torture, persecution, and great harm. When they resettle, they rebuilt their lives and add to our economy and our communities. They add to our workforce, they pay taxes, and they become Texans. To turn away those with the most need, especially when our Texas communities do not want to, just doesn’t make sense.” The decision to opt out of resettling refugees in Texas would also separate families as some family members were resettled earlier in the state and are simply awaiting the arrival of their loved ones.
MORE: Contact Rebecca Lightsey, American Gateways, 512-478-0546 ext. 208 or firstname.lastname@example.org
American Gateways champions the rights of immigrants, refugees and survivors of persecution, torture, conflict and human trafficking through immigration legal services, at low or no cost, as well as education and advocacy.