AUSTIN, Texas -- Gov. Greg Abbott's decision to ban refugees from initially settling in Texas has drawn quick and sharp criticism from groups across the state. That includes Texas' Catholic bishops, who called the decision “discouraging and disheartening." Gov. Abbott is also Catholic. 

  • Gov. Greg Abbott bans new refugees from settling in Texas in 2020 
  • Move decried by Catholic Church leaders 
  • Move characterized by critic as economic mistake 

"The Catholic Church in Texas, represented by the 15 different bishops, we are saying yes to refugees. We are going to do all what we can do for them," said Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller from the Archdiocese of San Antonio.  

Under an executive order signed by President Trump, groups that resettle refugees must submit their plans by next week. More than 40 governors have consented, but Abbott was the first to decline. Now, other faith-based groups and refugee organizations are calling on the governor to reverse course. 

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Rebecca Lightsey with American Gateways, which provides citizenship and immigration services, said she's worked with thousands of people who've escaped hardship in their home country and have resettled in Texas. She worries the governor's decision will have a negative economic impact. 

"This is an economic mistake, but more than that, it's a humanitarian mistake," said Lightsey.  

Estimates show Gov. Abbott's decision to ban refugees from initially settling in Texas will cost the state about $17 million in federal dollars that would have gone to help refugees resettle in the state. Even some longtime supporters of the Republican governor are questioning the move. 

"Texas has always been an example of a welcoming state," said Republican political consultant and analyst Adryana Aldeen.  

She has taken to Twitter to urge the governor to reconsider his decision.

"They've been through a lot of scrutiny. They already went through the process. They already filled all the paperwork. And there's evidence of the great need that they need for asylum in the country," said Aldeen.  

But Abbott spokesperson John Wittman said the governor's decision won't deny anyone access to this country.

"No one seeking refugee status in the United States will be denied that status because of the Texas decision," he stated in a text. "Importantly, the decision by Texas will not prevent any refugee from coming to America. Equally important, the Texas decision doesn’t stop refugees from moving to Texas after initially settling in another state.”

Gov. Abbott's office also said this is a 2020 decision and they'll reevaluate it each year. There's also a pending lawsuit alleging the executive order violates federal law. Click the video link above to watch our interview with one of the plaintiffs, Krish O'Mara Vignarajah. She's the president of the Baltimore-based Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.