Author Archives: Houmanitarian

Bittersweet Thanksgiving Gift: Dying Houston Teen Granted Permission to See Parents One Last Time

After many social media pleas and online petitions, Qirat Chapra has been granted visas for her parents. The teen, who was born in the US to traveling Pakistani parents, has been in hospitals almost ever since suffering from an array of medical problems and now an incurable cancer. Her parents were sent back to Pakistan over 10 years ago as their visas expired, but as doctors say her final days are approaching, Qirat wants to see her parents and hug them one last time. Now she hopefully will get that chance.
(Video: KTRK 13 News)


Texas Governor Seeks to Stop Nonprofits Involved in Refugee Resettlement from Working with Syrians

Controversy over Governor Greg Abbott’s letter to Washington to hold off on sending more Syrian refugees to Texas took an extra turn late last week as he claimed he had legal authority to do so under federal law. And then  sent letters to nonprofit resettlement agencies to stop all activities dealing with Syrians. The action is stirring a response both within the immigration advocates, the Muslim community and even many faith-based Christian agencies involved in resettlement.

(Video: KTRK 13 News)

(Video: KHOU 11 News)

(Video: KHOU 11 News)


Houston readies for another influx of refugees (Houston Chronicle)


Governor Abbott Seeks To Close Texas’ Door to Syrian Refugees

Texas Tribune, Edgar Walters
Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday that Texas would refuse Syrian refugees after a terrorist attack in Paris killed more than 120 people.

“Given the tragic attacks in Paris and the threats we have already seen, Texas cannot participate in any program that will result in Syrian refugees — any one of whom could be connected to terrorism — being resettled in Texas,” Abbott wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama.

Cynthia Leigh, an immigration attorney in Austin, said advocates for refugees “deplore this sort of announcement.” But Leigh said Abbott’s move was likely legal because resettlement policies are at the discretion of local communities.

Asked if individual states were allowed to bar Syrian refugees from being resettled, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, “I don’t have an answer for you. I think our lawyers are looking into that.”

Abbott’s announcement made Texas the third state to declare it would block Syrian refugees from resettling. The governors of Michigan and Alabama said Sunday that they would similarly prevent such resettlement in their states. Other states followed suit on Monday.

In his letter, Abbott said ISIS posed a “very real” risk to Texas, referencing an attack last year in Garland where a security guard was wounded after being shot outside a Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest. ISIS claimed responsibility for that attack.

In a similar statement on Monday, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick commended the governor’s actions.

“We adhere to Judeo-Christian principles and stand ready to help those in need, but not at the expense of the safety and security of our own people,” Patrick said.

House Speaker Joe Straus on Monday took a more nuanced position, saying he agreed with Abbott’s “concern” and that refugees needed “thorough background reviews” in order to be placed in Texas.

“I share Gov. Abbott’s concern that relocating refugees to Texas without thorough background reviews compromises our security,” Straus said in an emailed statement. “Our highest priority as a state has been and should continue to be the safety of all Texans.”

In September, the U.S. State Department announced it would accept 10,000 Syrian refugees next year. Thousands have fled war-stricken Syria, mostly to Europe, Turkey and Jordan, as the terrorist group ISIS has taken over much of the nation’s territory.

It is unclear how many of those refugees would have ended up in Texas, but in recent years, the Lone Star State has accepted about 10 percent of the 70,000 refugees admitted into the country annually.

Obama reiterated his support for accepting Syrian refugees at a press conference Monday morning.

“We also have to remember that many of these refugees are victims of terrorism themselves,” he told reporters. “Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values.”

About 120 Syrian refugees have already been resettled in Texas this year.

Refugee admissions are determined by the U.S. Department of State, which processes applications received through the United Nations and conducts security screenings — a process that can take up to two years.

Refugees cleared by the State Department are assigned to one of nine national refugee resettlement organizations that place individuals in communities across the country, where local case managers help them resettle.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune


Paris Attacks Intensify Debate Over How Many Syrian Refugees to Allow Into the U.S. (New York Times)

Paris Attacks Intensify Debate Over How
Many Syrian Refugees to Allow Into the U.S. (New York Times)