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Catholic Charities: Future For Syrian Refugees Settlement Uncertain

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
Catholic Charities in San Antonio.

At this Catholic Charities complex refugees from around the world get counseling, household necessities and help settling in to their new homes.

“Some of those individuals are from different countries, anywhere from Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Burma, Nepal, the Congo, Eritrea, Iran and Cuba," said Patti Vela, the Director of Mission Advancement for Catholic Charities.

She says last year Catholic Charities resettled 1,300 refugees in the San Antonio area. “Normally it’s because they just can’t stay in the country any longer due to credible fear.”

Catholic Charities has been planning to resettle 250-500 Syrian refugees here as well.  But on Monday those plans were thrown into uncertainty.

In Greg Abbott’s letter to the President, the Governor stated he would be directing the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to not participate in Syrian Refugee relocation. 

Vela says Catholic Charities works with that state agency. “We take direction from them, so we are in a wait-and-see pattern right now, waiting to hear from them as to how we will proceed.”

It’s unclear how much power the governor’s "direction" has. According to a spokesman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, it’s up to the federal government to decide where refugees go, then the state provides funding after relocation.

According to the Commission, 21 Syrian refugees have resettled in Texas since Sept. 1.