Federal Judges Hear Arguments On Syrian Refugee Case Against Pence

Sep 15, 2016

Governor Mike Pence is attempting to withhold funds from programs helping Syrian refugees relocate to Indiana.
Credit Courtesy Governor Mike Pence

A panel of federal judges heard arguments Wednesday on a case challenging Governor Mike Pence’s attempt to withhold funds from programs helping Syrian refugees relocate to Indiana.

American Civil Liberties Union lawyers say they’re confident the law won’t stand up to scrutiny.

Last November Governor Pence suspended state funding to organizations such as Exodus Refugee Immigration, in a move he said was to protect Hoosiers from foreign-born terrorists.

Exodus and the ACLU sued the state and a federal judge in Indiana ruled in their favor, keeping Pence’s move from taking effect. Now the state is asking the seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago to reverse that decision.

ACLU-Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk says the appeals court judges questioned the governor’s authority on such a policy, since it appears to conflict with policies at the federal level.

“As the court noted, this is not a decision the state should be making. This is a decision the President of the United States has made, and this is not a program that allows a state, we argue, to insinuate itself into foreign policy,” Falk says.

The Indiana Attorney General’s office reiterated in a statement today that Governor Pence does hold authority to stall the funding, especially in light of concerns about the federal government’s refugee screening process.

Falk says there is no deadline on the Seventh Circuit Court’s decision, so all they have to do now is wait.