Immigrant Advocates, State Attorneys Argue Pence Policy To Block Syrian Refugees

Feb 15, 2016

Some Greater Lafayette residents oppose Governor Mike Pence's suspension of the the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana.
Credit Sarah Fentem / WBAA

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

One of those resettlement groups is suing the state over the policy Governor Mike Pence put into effect in December. 

Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fischer says that’s because FBI officials testified before Congress, and said the federal government doesn’t have access to sufficient information for background checks of those refugees.

But ACLU Indiana legal director Ken Falk, who represents Exodus Refugee Immigration, 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," he says. "We live in a system where the federal government is supreme in certain areas."

Exodus Refugee Immigration has brought in four Syrian refugees since Pence issued his order.

Fisher emphasizes 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.

A federal judge says she expects to issue a ruling by the end of the month.