Mike Pence faces a federal lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, because the Indiana governor recently suspended the resettlement of Syrian refugees.
Pence is not alone. Governors from at least 15 other states have shut down their borders to displaced Syrian refugees shortly after the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris. Reports suggested one of the Paris bombers was in the country under the guise of a Syrian refugee.
Reports the Indianapolis Star on Nov. 24: “The lawsuit, filed Monday night, accuses Pence of violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution by accepting refugees from other countries but not those from Syria. It comes a week after the Indiana governor — and many of his counterparts around the country — suspended the resettlement of Syrian refugees in their states following terrorist attacks in Paris.”
In a statement last week, Gov. Pence said: “Indiana has a long tradition of opening our arms and homes to refugees from around the world but, as governor, my first responsibility is to ensure the safety and security of all Hoosiers.” Pence said that until the federal government can provide assurances that “proper security measures are in place,” he has directed state agencies to turn away refugees fleeing Syria’s civil wars.
Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration reports that only 40 individuals from Syria have been placed in the state over the last five years. According to the lawsuit however, the government has approved the settlement of 19 Syrians into Indiana, but Pence is blocking the moves.
The complaint also alleges Pence knowingly is violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act by suspending Syrian resettlements “solely because of their national origin.”
ACLU of Indiana’s legal director, Ken Falk, said of the lawsuit, filed on behalf of the Indianapolis nonprofit organization Exodus Refugee Immigration: “Decisions concerning immigration and refugee resettlement are exclusively the province of the federal government, and attempts to pre-empt that authority violate both equal protection and civil rights laws and intrude on authority that is exclusively federal,” Falk said.
In September, the Obama administration, “under increasing pressure to demonstrate that the United States is joining European nations in the effort to resettle Syrian refugees,” said that the U.S. plans to take in at least 10,000 displaced Syrians over a one-year period, reports the NY Times.
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