Breaking: Syrian Refugee Freakout, Take 2

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This just in: Attorney General Ken Paxton is going back to the drawing board and has filed a new temporary restraining order with the to halt the relocation of another family of Syrian refugees scheduled to arrive in Texas on Thursday, even though he withdrew his previous request for a temporary restraining order to bar three families from long-planned resettlement in Houston and Dallas last Friday. He’s hoping you, and the judge, don’t remember that. Because this time he means it!

[Sidebar: when you Google “Paxton court filing,” all these hits for his securities fraud indictment come up. It’s almost like that’s the most important thing he does–fire his lawyers, try to get the case dismissed even though he paid a fine for exactly the thing he’s under indictment for, wish the reporters Merry Christmas at the end of his final pre-trial hearing last week. It’s awesome.]

Apparently, Ken Paxton thinks the second TRO’s the charm. According to The Texas Tribune, in the filing, Paxton writes “evidence came to light” “that terrorist organizations have infiltrated the very refugee program that is central to the dispute before this Court.” The evidence apparently came from House and Homeland Security Committee Chair Michael McCaul and Department of Public Safety Deputy Director for Homeland Secirity Robert Bodisch.

In a completely unsurprising development, Greg Abbott issued a statement in support of Paxton’s filing:

In light of alarming comments made by the House Homeland Security Committee Chairman and testimony by the Deputy Director of Homeland Security at the Texas Department of Public Safety, it is essential that a judge consider halting the Syrian refugee process – at least on a temporary basis – to ensure refugees coming to the United States will be vetted in a way that does not compromise the safety of Americans and Texans.”

In a statement this week, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul said that the National Counterterrorism Center has identified, “individuals with ties to terrorist groups in Syria attempting to gain entry to the U.S. through the U.S. refugee program.”

Let’s practice our critical reading skills, shall we? First, it would seem that the governor and the attorney general are working on a group project, since their reports are identical. And let’s leave it at that, instead of suggesting that one of them cribbed from the other, or possibly that one gave the other the notes, outline and maybe a draft of the paper. Maybe the one who’s been on TV all day talking about the need for governors to have more the power to keep fully-vetted refugees out of their states:Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 4.29.39 PM

However, something else is bothering me, beside the fine example of GOP lockstep/mind meld we find here. Greg Abbott states that it’s “essential” that a judge go back and rethink his ruling on Monday that he will take no action on the case as originally filed two weeks ago because (“in light of”) “alarming comments” were made by two people. One of the two people who made the alarming comments was Rep. Mike McCaul. However, Congressman McCaul says is that the National Counterterrorism Center has identified people with terrorist ties who are trying to use to the refugee program to enter the U.S. Wait, doesn’t that mean that the vetting process is working? They’ve actually identified these people and presumably they are not letting them in? Isn’t finding the dangerous people and keeping them out what you want the federal government to do, Governor Abbott? Am I missing something?

Honestly, Abbott seems to be doubling down on his Syrian refugee fight today, despite the fact that, as Talking Points Memo put it Monday, “Texas Is Losing In A Rout*”:

Texas’ big move to bar any Syrian refugees has virtually collapsed in a heap of big talk, weak legal arguments, and bravado. It’s remarkable how quickly the effort basically disintegrated.

Wow, Texas got back up, shook it off and got right back in that ring. The very same day Ted Cruz came to Austin to be in a picture with Greg Abbott telling the federal government that governors should have all the power.

Who knows what Judge David C. Godbey will make of this latest filing? Will Paxton prevail? Will Abbott stir the pot, or will Ted Cruz take the baton at his next Iowa potluck? Will Texas have to change our state motto from “Friendship” to “Fraidy Cat?” Stay tuned.

UPDATE, 5:05pm: Within three minutes of publishing this post, Judge David Godbey ruled on this latest motion, denying the request for a temporary restraining order. So, the freakout is over. For today.

*What? Texas lose to the federal government?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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