Indiana Loses Fight To Ban Syrian Refugees

Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s attempt to block Syrian refugees from coming into his state has failed. A federal judge has ordered that state agencies must continue to fund charity organizations that support the resettling of migrants. Efforts to block the relocation of the immigrants were deemed unconstitutional.

Governor Mike Pence had argued that the Syrian refugees pose a potential threat to the safety of Indiana residents — sentiments which many citizens appear to agree with. The U.S. District Judge, Tanya Walton Pratt, did not agree with the argument and issued a ruling which could set a precedent for similar cases now being tried in more than 24 other states. States that are currently attempting to thwart efforts to resettle refugees within their borders include Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Arizona, Michigan, Illinois, Maine, and New Hampshire. All but one of the governors in the protesting 31 states have a Republican governor, CNN reports.

Judge Pratt sided with the Exodus Refugee Immigration group that offers job training and language classes for migrants. The group plants to resettle approximately 200 Syrian refugees in Indiana this year. A family of four migrants arrived to the state in January. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis aided in the relocation of the refugees, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

After the ISIS attacks in Paris last November, about 30 governors declared they would not permit Syrian refugees in their states. The Obama administration has mandated that approximately 10,000 refugees will ultimately be resettled in the United States. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as has called for up to 60,000 such refugees to be allowed to live in America.

Donald Trump was perhaps the most vocal presidential candidate to oppose the Syrian refugee resettlement plan of the Obama administration. Trump cited FBI testimony to Congress when detailing why he believes Syrian refugees, and all foreign Muslims, should be temporarily banned from entering the United States. FBI officials have stated that the current vetting system is not capable of thoroughly completing background checks on refugees.

Although White House officials have claimed that the vetting process for Syrian refugees is a thorough 2-year affair, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle and the FBI appear to disagree.

“Syrian refugees are fleeing exactly the kind of terror that unfolded on the streets of Paris,” they wrote. “They have suffered violence just like this for almost five years,” a letter sent to Congress from the Council of Jewish Women and 20 other faith-based groups, said. “To turn our back on refugees would be to betray our nation’s core values.”

Here’s an except from the federal judge’s ruling on the Indiana Syrian refugees case.

“The state’s conduct clearly constitutes national origin discrimination. Although the state says it has a compelling reason for doing so — the safety of Indiana residents — the withholding of federal funds from Exodus that it would use to provide social services such as cultural integration training, job skills training, and adult English language training to Syrian refugees in no way furthers the state’s asserted interest in the safety of Indiana residents. In balancing the competing claims of injury, it is clear that Exodus and its refugee clients will be harmed by the state’s directive.”

Current U.S. law does not allow governors to directly block the resettlement of refugees by the federal government. The Indiana Governor was attempting to order agencies in his state to cut off funding to the Exodus Refugee Immigration program to stop the refugees from taking up residence.

Moments after the ruling by the federal judge, Governor Mike Pence ordered his attorney general to appeal the ruling. Pence promised to continue the resettlement ban fight as long as the Obama administration refuses to “address gaps” in the background screening process.

Do you think Syrian refugees pose a national security threat and place American citizens in danger?

[Photo by AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris]