Monday, October 3, 2016

Court of Appeals denies state's quest to prevent Syrian refugee resettlement

Posted By on Mon, Oct 3, 2016 at 3:01 PM

click to enlarge Last year, Epworth United Methodist Church hosted a candlelight vigil and "get-to-know-your-neighbors" reception for Syrian refugees in Indianapolis. - AMBER STEARNS
  • Amber Stearns
  • Last year, Epworth United Methodist Church hosted a candlelight vigil and "get-to-know-your-neighbors" reception for Syrian refugees in Indianapolis.
From the ACLU of Indiana:

Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed a federal court ruling that prohibits the State of Indiana from taking any actions to interfere with or attempt to deter the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana, including by withholding funds and services to resettlement groups and the refugees they serve.

"The Court of Appeals' decision underscores what we have said throughout this litigation," said Ken Falk, legal director of the ACLU of Indiana. "Governor Pence may not constitutionally or legally discriminate against a particular nationality of refugees that are extensively vetted by the federal government."
The lawsuit filed in November, 2015 was brought by Exodus Refugee Immigration, a nonprofit resettlement agency, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and ACLU national, which said the state's actions to discriminate against Syrian refugees on the basis of national origin violate both equal protection and civil rights laws and intrude on authority that is exclusively federal.

In part, the ruling says, "[Governor Mike Pence] argues that his policy of excluding Syrian refugees is based solely on the threat he thinks they pose to the safety of residents of Indiana. But that's the equivalent of his saying (not that he does say) that he wants to forbid black people from settling in Indiana, not because they are black, but because he's afraid of them, and since race is therefore not his motive he isn't discriminating. But that of course would be racial discrimination, just as his targeting Syrian refugees is discrimination on the basis of nationality."

The three judge appeals court panel who decided the case included Judges Richard Posner, Frank H. Easterbrook and Diane S. Sykes.

"The Court of Appeals' decision underscores what we have said throughout this litigation," said Ken Falk, legal director of the ACLU of Indiana. "Governor Pence may not constitutionally or legally discriminate against a particular nationality of refugees that are extensively vetted by the federal government."

"A court has once again rejected Indiana's efforts to block the resettlement of Syrian refugees. This ruling is a stinging rebuke of Governor Mike Pence's anti-refugee actions," said Omar Jadwat, senior staff attorney with the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project.
The state does of the option to try to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court for consideration, but there is no guarantee the high court will hear the case. The Indiana attorney general's office has not yet made comment on the case. 

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Amber Stearns

Amber Stearns

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Amber Stearns was born, raised, and educated right here in Indianapolis. She holds a B.S. in Communications from the University of Indianapolis (1995). Following a 20-year career in radio news in Indiana, Amber joined NUVO as News Editor in 2014.
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