Immigration Law

Federal court refuses to 'stick its judicial nose into this political morass' involving refugees


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A federal judge in Dallas has refused to grant a preliminary injunction that would block the federal government from resettling Syrian refuges in Texas.

In his Feb. 8 order (PDF) denying the injunction, U.S. District Judge David Godbey said the case presents political questions that should not be resolved by the courts.

“Somewhat ironically,’ Godbey wrote, “Texas, perhaps the reddest of red states, asks a federal court to stick its judicial nose into this political morass, where it does not belong absent statutory authorization. Finding no such authorization, this court will leave resolution of these difficult issues to the political process.”

Godbey also found that the state had had failed to show a substantial threat of irreparable injury from the settlement. The state had produced an expert’s opinion that refugees from Syria pose a greater risk than other refugees, but there was no evidence as to whether that risk is substantial, Godbey said.

“The court does not deny that the Syrian refugees pose some risk,” Godbey wrote. “That would be foolish. In our country, however, it is the federal executive that is charged with assessing and mitigating that risk, not the states and not the courts. It is certainly possible that a Syrian refugee resettled in Texas could commit a terrorist act, which would be tragic. The court, however, cannot interfere with the executive’s discharge of its foreign affairs and national security duties based on a possibility of harm, but only on a proper showing of substantial threat of irreparable injury and a legal right to relief.”

The Austin American-Statesman, the Dallas Morning News Trail Blazers Blog, the Texas Tribune and Courthouse News Service covered Godbey’s decision.

Godbey had previously denied a request for a temporary restraining order to block resettlement.

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