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Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott shocked his constituents and other Americans when he became the first governor to announce that his state would not accept any refugees whatsoever—even if said refugees were vetted and came through the proper channels.

Abbott says his state's resources should go to Texas instead.

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Chen Mengtong/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images // @BrianEntin/Twitter

Hurricane Dorian may have dissipated by now, but millions of people are still feeling the effects of its aftermath, especially people of the Bahamas, where Dorian killed 50 and left rampant destruction in its wake. Thousands still remain missing.

Bahamian refugees fleeing the destruction were forced to exit a boat heading to the United States this past weekend, after a sudden rule change demanded that they have visas in order to travel to the U.S. Because people of the Bahamas are our neighbors, an I.D. and a copy of their police record has been sufficient documentation for years.

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As outcry mounts against the racist chants of his supporters at a Wednesday night rally in North Carolina, President Donald Trump attempted to distance himself from the moment that horrified Americans across the country.

While taking questions from reporters in the Oval Office, Trump claimed that he tried to stop his supporters' cries of "send her back," referring to Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN), by "speaking very quickly."

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Illegal immigrants arrive at a naval base in Tripoli on December 16, 2017, after they were rescued off the coast of Garabulli, 60 kilometers (40 miles) east of the Libyan capital. / AFP PHOTO / Mahmud TURKIA (MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images)

The Middle East, Northern Africa, and Europe have been staggering under a refugee crisis for several years. Thousands of people have attempted to flee from politically unstable and war-ravaged regions to safer shores, and many take that journey through Libya, which borders the Mediterranean Sea. Though tens of thousands have made it to Italy and Greece, and some travel through Europe to find shelter in various countries, many do not survive the trek. According to the International Organization for Migration, a migration agency affiliated with the United Nations, more than 3,000 refugees have died during each of the past four years while attempting to sail to Europe from Libya.

This crisis has caused unrest, famine and family separation, but in late November a new horror was brought to the world’s attention when video surfaced of refugees in Libya apparently being sold into slavery. The video set off a renewed international uproar over the refugee crisis, but the complicated and dangerous political situation in the region may make it difficult for aid to reach those who need it most.

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Toronto-based nonprofit Rainbow Railroad is working with the Canadian government to give sanctuary to gay and lesbian Chechnyan refugees fleeing persecution in their home country. The nonprofit helps LGBTs escape state-sponsored violence in countries around the world. Executive director Kimahli Powell revealed in a Facebook video that Rainbow Railroad had been covertly working with the Canadian government over the past three months to aid the refugees.

An anti-gay purge in Chechnya began earlier this year, involving the arrest, detaining, beating and torturing of gays by law enforcement. Though at least three deaths have been reported, the Chechen government claims the purge never happened, and in a recent HBO interview, Chechen leader Ramzan A. Kadyrov denied the existence of gay people within his country altogether. In response, Powell and the Canadian government quietly created an underground railroad program that has expedited safe passage for 31 government-assisted refugees between June and August, mostly arriving from safe houses in Russia, with more to be expected.

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Officials from the Department of Health and Human Services issued a draft report in July determining that refugees “contributed an estimated $269.1 billion in revenues to all levels of government” between 2005 and 2014, through the payment of federal, state and local taxes. The Trump administration rejected the report.

The report — which categorizes expenditure item-by-item — reveals that an increase in refugees is helpful to the economy. More specifically, the report reveals that refugees, listed by country of origin, generated $63 billion more in government revenues over the past decade than they cost. Though this draft report was not released to the public, despite its completion over the summer, The New York Times has acquired it.

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Although the courts have blocked President Trump’s second attempt at imposing a travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority nations, many people find themselves in limbo. Families have been split up, legal U.S. citizens and green card holders are wary of foreign travel, and refugees who are currently in the process of moving to the U.S. are facing the unknown.

Trump’s proposed ban indefinitely bars Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. and suspends entry for other refugees until an “extreme vetting process” can be devised. However, under the Obama administration’s rules, refugees already submitted to a rigorous screening process that involved nine different law enforcement, intelligence, and security agencies; took from 18 months to two years to accomplish; and was so strict that it eliminated more than half of those who applied. According to the International Rescue Committee, 60,000 refugees who have already passed the approval process are now suspended in crisis zones.

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