Message to Governor Abbott from Refugee Congress Delegate in Texas

January 2020

Hadidja Nyiransekuye is the Refugee Congress Honorary Delegate in Texas. Originally an asylum-seeker from Rwanda, she now lives in Denton, Texas.

When Governor Abbott announced his decision to stop refugee resettlement in Texas, I was deeply disappointed, and also confused. There are so many localities in Texas that have indicated what I know to be true from my own experience: Texans welcome refugees!

Although I am relieved by the recent court injunction that halts the governor’s decision, I am still concerned about the future of refugee resettlement in Texas, and I strongly urge Governor Abbott to support refugees.

Twenty-one years ago, my four children and I benefited from the generosity of complete strangers when we fled from our country and needed a safe community where we could start a new life. That helping hand has allowed us and thousands of others to rebuild our lives. Years later, we call Texas our home, and are productive, thriving members of our community.

Opening our doors to refugees is meaningful in many ways. In our resilient and grateful nature, we have a positive attitude towards their new home communities. We are known to be hard working and reliable employees, always willing to work extra shifts and taking on tasks that need completing.

Refugees also are known to be a strong contributing factor to the economic vitality of Texas due to their work ethic, buying power and willingness to try new things to make their lives better than they were before.

Businesses owned by refugees in Texas range from food production to distribution, transportation to healthcare, crafts and more. Many housing companies rely on the steady input of rent money brought in by refugees, which has revitalized many neighborhoods. Meat plants and other production facilities across Texas have benefited from a workforce that is willing to work, and work hard.

Refugees and their children, who grow up as young people in Texas, are proud citizens who have learned and now espouse ideals of democracy and self-determination. Many of our young men and women who are former refugees enlist in the armed services to defend the country that we love and are willing to die defending it. 

For all that and more, I urge Governor Abbott to connect with communities and constituents around Texas who have seen the benefits of refugee resettlement and want to preserve the tradition of welcome here in Texas.