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Texas orders local nonprofits not to serve Syrian refugees

By Ruth McCambridge, editor in chief, The Nonprofit Quarterly |

As was reported by Rick Cohen last Monday, Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, joined other Republican governors in declaring that Syrian refuges were not welcome to be resettled in that state. “As the governor of the state of Texas,” he said, “I will not roll the dice and take the risk on letting a few refugees in simply to expose Texans to that danger.”

In Cohen’s newswire last week, he wrote:

This is yet another of those issues that nonprofits might hope to dodge as “not their issue,” someone else’s concern and priority, but it’s not. If the U.S. slams the door on desperate Syrian refugees, the nonprofit sector that claims to represent openness, inclusion, and democracy will find its credibility seriously damaged should it fail to do whatever it can to confront the politicians using fear and hatred as a tool for political advancement.

Now, that representation is being tested, and the sector’s reaction has been mixed.

Though governors have no right to exclude refugees, they do have other ways to make resettlement difficult. In a letter sent to several local nonprofits from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, nonprofits involved in resettlement were asked to stop serving Syrian refugees by Friday—and according to this report, several complied. (Of the 7,200 refugees that resettled in Texas last year, 213 were Syrian.)

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