12 Syrian refugees to arrive in Texas despite state's effort to block them after Paris attacks

Members of The Syrian People Solidarity Group protesting in Austin, Texas on Nov 22, 2015.
Members of The Syrian People Solidarity Group protesting in Austin, Texas on Nov 22, 2015. PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Two families of Syrian refugees are due to arrive in Texas on Monday (Dec 7) despite efforts by the state to prevent them from resettling there, which include a lawsuit it filed last week in federal court to bar them entry.

A family of six composed of two children under age 6, their parents and the children's grandparents are scheduled to arrive in Dallas. Another family of six comprising four children aged 2 to 13 and their parents are set to arrive in Houston, the US Justice Department said in a court filing.

No plans have been announced for the refugees, who arrived last week in New York, to speak in public.

The results of the case filed at a US district court in Dallas could determine whether the governors of about 30 states will be able to go through with plans to bar the local resettlement of Syrian refugees.

After the deadly Paris attacks in November, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, was one of the first governors to seek to block the resettlement of Syrians in their states.

Abbott has said he was concerned that US security screening is ineffective and could allow people with ties to terrorism to be admitted.

In its court filing, the US Justice Department said Texas did not have the authority to act on national immigration policy and could not bar the refugees from resettling.

The International Rescue Committee, which was also named as a party in the suit, said in its filing that barring entry to a state based on nationality violated US civil rights laws.

Texas is seeking a hearing by Wednesday on its request for an injunction that would bar Syrian refugees from resettling.

Since fiscal year 2011, 243 Syrian refugees have resettled in Texas, the US filing said, making the state one of the main US relocation sites since the Syrian civil war erupted about four years ago.