Indiana governor Mike Pence is being sued by the ACLU for his stance on refusing to accept Syrian refugees into his state. On November 16, Governor Mike Pence put out a statement declaring his intentions on the Syrian refugees.
“In the wake of the horrific attacks in Paris, effective immediately, I am directing all state agencies to suspend the resettlement of additional Syrian refugees in the state of Indiana pending assurances from the federal government that proper security measures have been achieved.”
— ACLU National (@ACLU) November 24, 2015
Mike Pence is not alone in his stance on refugees coming into the United States. Including Pence, 31 governors have said that they will not accept Syrian refugees into their state until they can be assured that the vetting process is thorough enough to determine if any terrorists are part of the refugees. Pence wrote an op-ed and clarified his stance.
“Indiana and the United States must continue to serve as a safe harbor for refugees from around the world. However, unless and until the federal government addresses the security gaps acknowledged by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security with regard to refugees from Syria, as governor I will continue to put the safety and security of Hoosiers first.”
On Monday, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of some of the refugees. The lawsuit can be seen here. The ACLU had been trying to assist a Syrian family to get settled in Indiana. The father of the family commented on the situation his family now faces.
“Why did they bring us if they didn’t want us? We felt rejected. We were depressed. How could that be the freedoms that we hear about?”
The American Civil Liberties Union is claiming that Governor Mike Pence is in violation of the Civil Rights act of 1964 and that Pence does not have the authority to determine who immigrates into his state. Immigration is solely handled by the federal government. Judy Rabinovitz, deputy legal director of the ACLU’s immigrants’ rights project, commented on the situation and Governor Mike Pence.
“He does not have the power to pick and choose between which lawfully admitted refugees he is willing to accept. Singling out Syrian refugees for exclusion from Indiana is not only ethically wrong, it is unconstitutional. Period.”
Even though Pence can not legally stop Syrian refugees from coming to Indiana, there are things he can do to make it very difficult for refugees within the state of Indiana. As governor, Mike Pence does have authority over all the state agencies. Pence can order agencies that assist with job training, food stamps, Medicaid, and other state agencies that assist people to not offer any assistance to Syrian refugees. By doing this, Pence would make it very difficult for any refugee trying to seek asylum in Indiana.
Governor Mike Pence may be in violation of federal law. Each state receives federal funds for the states to run these programs. The wording of Indiana state law and the contract that Indiana has with the government will determine if Pence is violating the law. A Washington University of St. Louis law professor and former chief counsel of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Obama administration, Stephen Legomsky, spoke with USA Today about Pence and the situation in Indiana. Legomsky states that Governor Mike Pence “is most likely a constitutional violation” of equal protection guarantees and “the exclusivity of the federal power to set immigration policy.”
The Syrian family-of-three that was trying to settle in Indiana has been taken in with open arms by Connecticut.
What are your thoughts on what Governor Mike Pence, and the other governors, are doing in regard to the refugee crisis.
[Image Via Ethan Miller/Getty Images]