Abbott gives Texas another black eye by refusing refugees

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Texans aren’t mean-spirited, but you’d never know that with Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in charge.

Last week, the governor announced that Texas would no longer be accepting refugees fleeing violence in other countries. He effectively claims the state should not have to take in more refugees as a result of a “broken federal immigration system.” 

His fiat, covered widely by national media, puts him in the minority of state chief executives, many in his own party. 17 other Republican governors have decided to follow Christian teachings and uphold America’s long-held tradition of a political safe haven.

“Texans have long been known for their southern hospitality and generosity of spirit,” the Episcopal Church said in a statement criticizing the governor’s decision. “Additionally, many Texans are people of strong faith who take seriously the Gospel call to welcome the stranger and to help those who are fleeing religious persecution and violence.”

On Monday, the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops also denounced Abbott’s decision on refugees.

Big-city mayors have said they would be proud to accept refugees. But their pleas fell on deaf ears. Abbott doesn’t seem to love the cities he oversees all that much.

This is a pattern

The refugee rejection isn’t the first time the governor has made Texas look mean as a rattlesnake. Of late he’s been attacking Austin’s “lawlessness” when it comes to its homeless population.  

And the big policy decision that speaks to the governor’s character? Refusing to expand Medicaid, thereby preventing millions of low-income Texans from having health insurance. As bad is his and his party’s abject failure to take up meaningful health care reform at the state level. For multiple legislative sessions, they have effectively opposed protecting pre-existing conditions and making medicine more affordable.

And let’s not forget the 2017 “bathroom bill” pushed by the governor and his lieutenants. It was horribly discriminatory, as was the governor’s opposition to taking down a Confederate plaque in the Capitol building (which wasn’t even historically accurate, anyway).

So to outsiders looking in, we get it. A governor who says no to refugees, affordable medicine, and basic equality can make the Lone Star State – already seen as a gun-lovers’ paradise –seem somewhat grotesque.  

But don’t confuse the state government with the great people of Texas. Abbott is a Tea Party patriot, a group not usually known for their compassion or level-headedness. Most of us are reasonable, decent folks who want the attacks on other groups of people to stop and governing on behalf of all Texans, including refugees, to start.

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

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