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AUSTIN (AP) — Texas has instructed volunteer organizations that settle international refugees statewide to immediately stop helping Syrians — even though it may not have the authority to do so.

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In letters released Friday, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission wrote to volunteer and community groups across the state. It ordered “any active plans to resettle Syrian refugees in Texas” to be discontinued immediately.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and more than half of his gubernatorial counterparts nationwide have said they would refuse Syrian refugees in their states, citing security concerns.

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Authorities in Washington say resettlement programs are federally funded and involve volunteer and private organizations — meaning states can’t dictate policy.

Abbott, though, has pointed to specific language in federal law, arguing it gives states the authority to refuse Syrian refugees.

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