Federal Judge Rules Indiana Can't Withhold Funds For Syrian Resettlement

Feb 29, 2016

Credit Joe Gratz / https://www.flickr.com/photos/joegratz/

A federal judge Monday said Indiana can’t block Syrian refugees from coming to the state, ruling the state’s actions are discriminatory.

Last December, Governor 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. 

“What the court has said is once these extensively-vetted refugees come to Indiana they must be treated the same,” says ACLU Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk, who represents Exodus.

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.