March 1, 2016

Federal Judge Rules Indiana Can't Block Syrian Refugees

INDIANAPOLIS -- A federal judge Monday said Indiana can’t block Syrian refugees from coming to the state. The judge ruled Indiana’s actions discriminate against the refugees.

Last November, Gov. Mike Pence announced he was suspending Indiana’s Syrian refugee resettlement program.  That action blocks federal funds from groups such as Exodus Refugee Immigration that assist those refugees.

Pence says the Obama administration has failed to address gaps in refugee screening and cited Hoosiers’ public safety in his decision to suspend the program. But a federal judge says that decision discriminates against Syrian refugees based on their national origin.

The judge’s ruling says the state’s action will have no effect on protecting Hoosiers, while doing significant harm to Exodus and the refugees themselves.

Exodus is represented by ACLU Indiana legal director Ken Falk .

“What the court has said is once these extensively-vetted refugees come to Indiana they must be treated the same,” says Falk.

In a statement, Pence says he will seek to immediately halt the effects of the judge’s ruling and appeal the decision.  He says his administration will take every legal step available to suspend the state’s Syrian resettlement program until the federal government shores up its vetting process.

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