February 12, 2016

Indiana Officials Defend Refugee Policy In Federal Court

In federal court Friday, Indiana officials defended the state’s right to withhold money from groups helping resettle Syrian refugees. - Nyttend

In federal court Friday, Indiana officials defended the state’s right to withhold money from groups helping resettle Syrian refugees.

Nyttend

INDIANAPOLIS -- In federal court Friday, Indiana officials defended the state’s right to withhold money from groups helping resettle Syrian refugees. Exodus Refugee Immigration, a resettlement group, is suing the state over that policy.

Gov.Pence in December announced the state would not distribute federal dollars to reimburse groups that resettle Syrian refugees. Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher says that’s because FBI officials testified before Congress that the federal government didn’t have access to sufficient information for background checks of those refugees.

But ACLU Indiana legal director Ken Falk, who represents Exodus, says other federal officials, including the head of immigration, say the background checks are more than sufficient.

“You don’t pick and choose on what you’d like to hear,” Falk says. “You rely on the federal government; that’s what we do. If we’re not happy with how a hypothetical president is fighting a war in the future, we don’t go over and fight it differently ourselves. We don’t withdraw our troops. We live in a system where the federal government is supreme in certain areas.”

Exodus has brought in four Syrian refugees since Pence issued his order. Fisher stresses that the state will provide those refugees with direct benefits they are owed, including food stamps and Medicaid; only dollars to reimburse Exodus for other expenses are withheld.

Federal judge Tanya Walton Pratt says she hopes to issue a ruling by the end of the month.

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