Texas slightly softened its stance Friday in a lawsuit that aims to block Syrian refugees from settling in the state, but legal experts say the challenge is still a long shot.
Texas is one of several states that don’t want Syrian refugees to settle within their borders, but the only one to take its case to court. The state filed a suit earlier this week arguing that the Obama administration had not adequately consult with state officials before making plans to help six Syrian refugees settle in Dallas.
Lawyers for the state backed down slightly on Friday, dropping a section of their lawsuit aimed specifically at family of refugees slated to arrive next week. But the state is still asking the courts to block additional refugees — and legal experts say that will be an uphill battle.
“The state's desire to prevent refugees from settling here is pretty clearly unconstitutional -- violating the right to travel (or migrate) from state to state,” said Jason Steed, a Dallas-based attorney with the firm Bell Nunnally who has offered free legal aid to Syrian refugees “facing adverse action from the State of Texas.”
In its complaint, Texas cited a section of the federal Refugee Act of 1980 that says the federal government “shall consult regularly (not less often than quarterly) with State and local governments and private nonprofit voluntary agencies concerning the sponsorship process and the intended distribution of refugees among the States and localities before their placement in those States and localities.”