refugees | KERA News


Each Wednesday at St. Francis Episcopal Church on the north side of San Antonio, dozens of refugees from all over the world come for free care at the Refugee Health Clinic.

Students and faculty at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio have teamed up to operate one of the only student-run refugee clinics in the country.

Osama, a Syrian refugee who resettled five months ago in Princeton, N.J., did not sleep on election night after listening to the results.

"The whole world is affected by American elections," he said during an English lesson with his wife, Ghada, the next morning at their dining room table. The family, which still has relatives in Syria, has asked that it be identified by first names only.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Imagine coming to this country and not knowing how to speak the language. More than 7,800 refugees came to Texas during the 2016 fiscal year, and many of them didn’t know English. 

Donald Trump's election has sent tremors through America's refugee advocate community, and caused fear and uncertainty among the most recently resettled refugees, the Syrians. They listened with alarm as candidate Trump called them "terrorists" and blamed them, incorrectly, for violent attacks in America.

Texas Moves To End Legal Battle Over Syrian Refugees

Oct 7, 2016
Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

A week after the state officially withdrewfrom the nation’s refugee resettlement program, Texas has moved to end its legal battle over Syrian refugees.

Krystina Martinez/KERA News

It’s been a week since Gov. Greg Abbott announced that Texas would withdraw from the federal Refugee Resettlement Program. The state took in 7,000 refugees in the last year and about 900 of those refugees have come from Syria.

A federal appeals court panel Monday blocked Indiana Gov. and Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence's attempt to keep Syrian refugees out of Indiana.

The court upheld a lower court judge in barring Pence from interfering with the distribution of federal funds to resettle Syrian refugees in his state. The appeals court panel said that federal law bars discrimination based on nationality.

Texas Officially Withdraws From Refugee Resettlement Program

Sep 30, 2016
UNHCR via Texas Tribune

Texas has officially withdrawn from the nation’s refugee resettlement program, Gov. Greg Abbott's office said Friday. But that won't stop the federal government from continuing to help refugees relocate here.

Ignoring Anti-Refugee Rhetoric, Texans Rush To Help In Resettlement

Sep 30, 2016
Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

Texas' top elected officials have not exactly welcomed refugees over the past year.

Texas Threatens To Stop Aid For Resettled Refugees If Demands Aren't Met

Sep 21, 2016
Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

Governor Greg Abbott says Texas will no longer provide aid to refugees unless the federal government can assure they “are fully vetted and don’t present a security threat.” Federal officials have said the U.S. has a rigorous screening process that can take 1 to 2 years.

A Vietnamese Refugee On Today's Migrant Crisis

Jun 20, 2016

Dr. Vinh Chung has a sense of what people fleeing the Middle East are going through. He was once a refugee – 40 years ago as a child fleeing South Vietnam. Today on Think – in recognition of World Refugee Day – he spoke with Lauren Silverman about his family’s journey and the importance of looking at refugees as real people.  

The KERA Interview

Dr. Vinh Chung On …

… arriving in Arkansas:

Texas Loses Fight To Keep Syrian Refugees Out

Jun 16, 2016
Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

Texas on Thursday lost its fight against the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the state, ending a months-long battle during which Syrian refugees continued to arrive.

A non-binding legal opinion issued by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton states that Texas can withhold federal funding to nonprofit refugee resettlement groups if these groups ignore the state’s security verification program for Syrian and Iraqi refugees being sent to the state.  

Cuban Refugees Flocking To Texas Border

Mar 22, 2016
Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

The same week President Obama makes the first trip to Cuba by an American president in almost 90 years, The Rolling Stones will play a free concert in Havana — the first open-air show there by a British rock band.

But changing times in the Communist country haven’t stopped tens of thousands from fleeing the island and saying gimme shelter to American immigration officials at Texas land ports.

Almost Half Of Texas Voters Support Banning Muslims, New Poll Says

Feb 25, 2016
Jimmy Emerson /

Almost half of the state’s voters support banning non-U.S. Muslims from entering the country, and more than half support immediate deportation of undocumented immigrants now living in the United States, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Once Again, Judge Rejects Texas Bid To Block Syrian Refugees

Feb 9, 2016
Marjorie Kamys Cotera / Texas Tribune

A federal judge has again denied a bid by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to block the federal government from resettling Syrian refugees in the state.

In North Texas, Varying Viewpoints On Refugees

Feb 8, 2016

Refugees have been in the headlines for months -- from Europe to Texas. More than 4 million Syrian refugees have fled the country since conflict began in 2011.

Gus Contreras / KERA News

For the families resettling in North Texas from Syria, it can be a difficult and long process. Ghada Mukdad came with her husband and three boys in 2012. 

Houston Has A History Of Welcoming Refugees

Dec 31, 2015
Syeda Hasan

Haider Elias says languages are his thing. He’s fluent in four, and he put those skills to work as a translator for the U.S. military in Iraq. Since moving to Houston six years ago, he’s picked up a few new phrases.

“The ‘hasta la vista’ is one that I liked,” Elias said. “It’s always, ‘see you whenever you want.’”

Texas DPS Chief: Refugee Concerns Extend Beyond Syrians

Dec 15, 2015
UNHCR via Texas Tribune

Despite Texas Republicans’ laser focus on keeping Syrian refugees from being resettled here, the head of the state's Department of Public Safety said Tuesday he’d prefer a wider lens that focuses on all countries connected to “Islamic terrorism.”

Jazzmany / Shutterstock

A federal judge on Wednesday denied the state’s latest request to keep Syrian refugees out of Texas.

Muhammad Hamed / Reuters

Texas is again asking a federal judge to immediately halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees, this time before nine are scheduled to arrive in Houston.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz doesn't want to "get down in the mud and engage in personal insults and attacks" — one reason he has declined to criticize Donald Trump more directly in the wake of Trump's plan to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S.

In an interview Tuesday morning with Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep at NPR's Washington headquarters, the GOP presidential candidate explained his own plan to slow immigration from some Muslim countries.

Abbott, Cruz Push New Curbs On Syrian Refugees

Dec 8, 2015
Chris Maddaloni / Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas teamed up Tuesday to push new curbs on Syrian refugees entering the United States, with Cruz unveiling a new bill that would let states "opt out" of accepting some refugees. 

Muhammad Hamed / Reuters

Six Syrian refugees have settled in their Dallas home over the initial objections of Texas officials who wanted to stop them.

Twelve Syrian refugees were expected to arrive in Texas on Monday, including a family of six in Dallas.

No Hearing This Week In Syrian Refugee Case, Judge Says

Dec 7, 2015
UNHCR via Texas Tribune

A federal judge in Dallas said Monday it will be several weeks before he takes up a case in which Texas is suing the federal government and a refugee nonprofit over Syrian refugees, according to a lawyer connected to the suit. That is despite the state's request for a hearing by Wednesday.

Ververidis Vasilis / Shutterstock

The legal battle over the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Texas took another turn Friday. Texas withdrew its request to block Syrian refugees from coming here. The state isn’t dropping the suit though – it’s asked the judge for an injunction hear by Wednesday.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

Three Texas mayors came together in Addison Friday to discuss diversity, refugees, the economy and education at a luncheon hosted by the National Center for Policy Analysis.  

Texas and the federal government have taken their power struggle over Syrian refugees to federal court.

In a suit filed Wednesday, the state says it wasn't adequately consulted over refugee placement and asked the court system to immediately block the resettlement of any Syrian refugees in Texas.

The federal government responded Friday, saying it had communicated with the state as required and that Texas' request would prolong the suffering of families with small children for no legitimate reason.