We at Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston were deeply disappointed to learn on Friday, Jan. 10 that Gov. Greg Abbott will not allow any new refugees to resettle in Texas in 2020-2021. Under the current federal administration, both city, county and state officials must agree to resettle refugees if a city community is to welcome them. Texas, Harris County and Houston in particular, have a long history of resettling refugees and Interfaith Ministries has been successfully doing this work for more than 30 years. We are eager to continue this tradition. It is part of all shared beliefs of all faiths to “welcome the stranger.”
Interfaith Ministries remains committed to serving refugees in the Greater Houston area to become self-sufficient and productive members of our community. Last year alone, we served over 1,500 refugee neighbors— only a small fraction of whom were new arrivals. We will continue this work in 2020, with a focus on job development, women’s empowerment, and youth mentorship if funding allows.
New refugee arrivals will not halt immediately. There are a number of refugees in the pipeline who will still be allowed to come to Houston. And exceptions have been made for those refugees holding Special Immigrant Visas— meaning they have been helping American troops and/or contractors in their homelands. Refugees may also choose to move to Texas after first resettling in another state and we will help them.
We need your help to make your opinion known to Gov. Abbott by emailing https://gov.texas.gov/contact or calling (512) 463-2000 and leaving a message. Please express your opposition to the decision to stop refugee resettlement in the state of Texas. This decision is devastating for refugee communities, especially families who are waiting to be reunited with loved ones through the resettlement program. A rejection of refugees is not what the state of Texas wants or needs – faith leaders, employers, and elected officials have noted that ending resettlement will devastate communities who rely on the workforce and contributions of new arrivals.
Refugees are the most carefully vetted of all immigrants and 90% of the refugees we resettle are self-sufficient within six months of arrival. These are resilient individuals who have fled their homelands in fear for their lives. They are our neighbors, co-workers, and friends. We at Interfaith Ministries are proud to stand with refugees. We are asking the community to stand with us at this crucial time.
Martin B. Cominsky
President & CEO