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Archdiocese Of Indianapolis Resettles Syrian Family, Governor Disagrees

Claire McInerny
StateImpact Indiana

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis has resettled a family of Syrian refugees in Indianapolis despite Governor Mike Pence's suspension of state assistance for resettlement of Syrians in Indiana.

The family arrived Monday night in Indianapolis, according to a statement released by Archbishop Joseph Tobin.  The family has relatives living in Indianapolis, Tobin says. 

The Catholic Church in Indianapolis announced last week that it would move forward with the resettlement of the married couple and their two small children even though the governor directed Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration to halt the distribution of funds dedicated to providing assistance for refugees originating from Syria.

Pence is among 31 governors who suspended Syrian resettlements after investigators found that one of the attackers in the November 13 Paris terror bombings had entered Europe carrying a Syrian passport. 

In his statement, Archbishop Tobin thanks the governor for meeting with him last week. Tobin says he “listened to the governor’s concerns regarding security and prayerfully considered his request that we defer from welcoming them until Congress had approved new legislation regarding immigrants and refugees.” 

Still, Tobin directed the staff of Catholic Charities to welcome the family as planned. 

“For 40 years the Archdiocese’s Refugee and Immigrant services has welcomed people fleeing violence in various regions of the world,” Tobin says. “This is an essential part of our identity as Catholic Christians and we will continue this life-saving tradition.” 

The archdiocese last week said it had come up with enough private donations to support the family. 

Subsequent to the archdioceses' decision, the governor’s office issued a statement which says, "The governor holds Catholic Charities in the highest regard but respectfully disagrees with their decision to place a Syrian refugee family in Indiana at this time."

“The safety and security of the people of Indiana is Governor Pence’s top priority,” according to the statement. “The State of Indiana will continue to suspend its participation in the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana until the federal government takes action to address the concerns raised about this program.”
Pence last week sent a letter urging Indiana's Congressional delegation to pause the Syrian refugee program until it can enact legislation that addresses concerns about gaps in federal background checks of refugees requesting resettlement in the United States. 

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