Gov. Greg Abbott irked Christian leaders this week after becoming the first and only governor in the U.S. so far to block refugees from resettling in their state.
Scott Arbeiter, the president of evangelical nonprofit World Relief said Abbott’s decision was “out of step with our heritage as Americans,” according to the Christian Post.
“We grieve the families with members already resettled in Texas that will have to wait even longer to be reunited, and we grieve even more for the loss our communities will experience without their new members,” World Relief Fort Worth Director Troy Greisen told the Christian Post.
Last month, more than 340 evangelicals, including pastors and leaders, signed onto a World Relief letter urging the Texas governor to continue accepting refugees.
But evangelicals weren’t the only denomination to blast Abbott. In a statement by the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops (a group representing all 16 of Texas’ Catholic bishops), the religious leaders said the move by Abbott, a practicing Roman Catholic, was “discouraging and disheartening.”
“It denies people who are fleeing persecution, including religious persecution, from being able to bring their gifts and talents to our state and contribute to the general common good of all Texans,” the group of bishops said. “The refugees who have already resettled in Texas have made our communities even more vibrant. As Catholics, an essential aspect of our faith is to welcome the stranger and care for the alien. We use this occasion to commit ourselves even more ardently to work with all people of good will, including our federal, state and local governments, to help refugees integrate and become productive members of our communities.”
Abbott made the decision to opt-out of the federal refugee resettlement program last week. It follows an executive order signed by President Trump in September that gave states the option to do so.
Since 2002, Texas has accepted more than 88,000 refugees, behind only California, according to the Pew Research Center. A 2015 study by the New American Economy found refugees contribute significantly to the Texas economy, including having a spending power of $4.6 billion and paying $1.6 billion in local, state, and federal taxes.
In case you missed it: Abbott gives Texas another black eye by refusing refugees
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