ACLU Sues Pence Over Syrian Refugee Block

Nov 24, 2015

Credit Steve Burns/WTIU News

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Gov. Mike Pence to stop him from blocking federal funds that help Syrian refugees move to Indiana.

The ACLU filed the suit Monday on behalf of Exodus Refugee Immigration, a nonprofit corporation that assists refugees with federal money funneled through the state. Without that money, Exodus says it cannot offer refugees basic living needs such as food stamps and Medicaid and they are forced to move elsewhere.

Exodus Executive Director Carleen Miller refuted claims that accepting refugees from Syria poses a security risk, citing the minimum 18-month vetting process each refugee goes through to move to the United States.

Miller says she wishes Pence and the more than two dozen other governors who want to halt the resettlement program understood more about who the Syrian refugees are.

“They are shop-owners, and business owners, and the kids are in school, and they’re bright and lovely, and I would for the governors to actually meet with Syrian families, and hear about their stories and why we need to welcome them,” Miller says.

Falk and Miller say there are 19 Syrians approved for refugee status and waiting to move to Indiana.

Gov. Pence's office released a statement Tuesday afternoon, reiterating that the governor is confident in his authority to block funding for Syrian refugees.

"[Gov. Pence] will not reverse course until the Administration and Congress take action to pause this program and implement measures necessary to address security gaps acknowledged by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security," the statement reads.

It concluded with a message from the Governor that "caution and compassion are not mutually exclusive."