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Texas Matters: Syrian Refugees On The Border

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Despite a lawsuit and objections from Governor Greg Abbott Syrian refugees are being resettled in Texas.

Nearly 30 governors across the U.S. vowed to block Syrian refugees since the Paris attacks last month. But no state has taken as aggressive a stance as Texas. Attorney General Ken Paxton took the Obama administration to court earlier this month over claims that federal officials and resettlement agencies haven't shared information about arriving refugees.

However the judge last week refused to immediately block resettlements in Texas. He said talk of extremists possibly infiltrating Syrian refugees were based on "largely speculative hearsay."

Texas' lawsuit has so far failed to turn back 21 Syrian refugees, many of them children and teenagers, who resettled in Houston and Dallas last week.

Syrian refugee are also turning up at the Texas Mexico border. These are families fleeing the civil war and Islamic extremists in their home country.

The number of Syrians seeking asylum in the U.S. has risen in recent years. There were 104 asylum cases filed by Syrians this year as of June, almost twice as many as in 2010, according to immigration court records. In 2014, for the first time in recent years, Syrians were among the top 25 groups granted asylum in the U.S.

But the Syrians are not being treated the same as other refugees seeking asylum. Immigraton attorney Jonathan Ryan who represents the border Syrian refugee families says they are facing the possibility of being sent back to Syria where they face an almost certain death. Ryan is the executive director of RAICES, a nonprofit which offers legal aid to immigrants.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi