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Texas sues US to block two Syrian refugee families

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Refugee children wait to enter a refugee camp after crossing the Greek-Macedonian border on December 2, 2015. (AFP photo)

The US state of Texas has filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration and an aid agency over plans to bring a small group of refugees to the state.

The International Rescue Committee is set to resettle two Syrian refugee families to Texas this week despite warnings from state officials that it could pose a security risk to Texans.

In its filing on Wednesday, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission is asking the US District Court in Dallas for an immediate restraining order and injunction to block the resettlement.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, the US State Department and others are named in the lawsuit as defendants.

The suit contends that the defendants are violating their "statutory duty" to inform the state in advance of relocating refugees in Texas.

Members of the Syrian People Solidarity Group protest in Austin, Texas, on November 22, 2015 against Gov. Abbott’s plan to block the refugees. (AFP photo)

"The point of this lawsuit is not about specific refugees, it is about protecting Texans by ensuring that the federal government fulfills its obligation to properly vet the refugees and cooperate and consult with the state," said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, according to Reuters.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott was among the first of more than 30 US governors seeking to block the Syrian refugees in the wake of the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott (AFP photo)

The lawsuit is the latest roadblock to US President Barack Obama’s plan to bring 10,000 Syrian refugees to the country over the next year.

Some state officials say they either oppose accepting any refugees as part of the national program or demand that they be especially scrutinized as potential security threats.

The United States has resettled only about 1,500 Syrian refugees since 2011, when the conflict began in Syria.

Washington has been criticized for not taking more of the estimated four million refugees fleeing the war-torn country.

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