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DALLAS (CBS11) — The debate is heating up over whether to allow Syrian refugees into the United States. Saturday Texas Governor Greg Abbott defended his decision to block any resettlement in Texas.
Meanwhile supporters of the Syrian refugees rallied in Dallas to protest the governor’s policy.
The demonstrators rallied at Dealey Plaza, which draws tourists every day, to raise awareness about what they see as a wrong-minded policy, but Saturday Abbott insisted he knows something they don’t.
Many demonstrators say they were outraged when Abbott ordered state agencies not to participate in the resettlement of Syrian refugees. Thirty other governors took similar positions following the terrorist attacks in Paris.
“Legally they don’t have the right to say if Syrian refugees can or can’t come into the state,” protestor Dan Sullivan said. “That’s purely a federal question, and every one of those governors knows it.”
Not everyone at Dealey Plaza shared that view.
“They have a right to protest,” Cathy Wittie said. “I don’t have to agree with it.”
Wittie was at Dealey Plaza to see the JFK sites. She says she worries about the prospect of allowing Syrian refugees into Texas.
“We don’t know who our neighbor is, so how do we know who they are?” Wittie said.
In a letter to both the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas Department of Public Safety, Governor Abbott called for local volunteer groups to stop efforts to resettle Syrians.
“We know that we have information that these charity groups simply don’t have,” Governor Abbott said in an interview Saturday with Fox News.
“It’s essential that this country get in control both of our border as well as know exactly who these Syrian refugees are, know whether or not they are connected to ISIS. We know for a fact from arrests we have made here in Texas that some are connected with ISIS,” Abbott said.
But protestors vowed to fight the movement to bar Syrians fleeing their war-torn country.
“We can’t resort to the sort of dangerous thinking that refugees are somehow going to be dangerous to us or that refugees don’t deserve a safe place to go,” protestor Ada Yaeger said.
In addition to barring new Syrian refugees from coming to Texas, Governor Abbott has called on law enforcement officials to ensure that refugees already in the state do not pose a threat to public safety.
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