On Monday, Governor Abbott announced that Texas would not receive refugees from Syria.
As a long-time resident of Texas, I have to say that I think that this is a good idea.
The last place a Syrian refugee—actually, any refugee—should want to come is the state of Texas.
Why would I say that? Just look at the way we treat our non-refugee residents. The state denies basic human rights to millions of its “normal” residents. For example, nearly a quarter of all Texas residents—six million people—do not have access to medical care. Governor Abbott, following Rick Perry’s lead, obstinately refuses to expand Medicaid. Both men insist that Texas “takes care of its own” in terms of health care, which seems to mean that if you are a working class person in Texas, you have been disowned.
Decent housing is a human right, as is a job that pays a living wage. Not a reality for many, many Texas residents.
More recently, some new-born Texans have been denied their human right to a nationality, as the Bureau of Vital Statistics decided, willy-nilly, not to issue birth certificates to children born to undocumented parents. (A “security” concern, says the State, self-righteously. One wonders just how secure the new-born without a birth certificate will feel).
The dismal state of affairs for regular Texans is brought into sharp relief in our Rio Grande Valley, where even the right to travel freely is infringed upon (try driving while brown through west Hidalgo and Starr county, where State Troopers are parked every half mile along the highway).
The unequal access to education, and the lack of even the most basic infrastructure in so many of our communities are other indications that not all Texans are considered equal by its political leaders.
While I don’t imagine that Governor Abbott was kindly directing the new Syrian refugees to a more favorable place to settle down, he is actually doing them a favor. A refugee from Syria, someone who has endured war and has survived the journey to seek safety, would indeed do better elsewhere.
Once again, our political leadership makes it very hard for me to be proud to be a Texan.
(This point is said so much better and in a different context in this article from a newspaper in Alabama)