March 6, 2016; New York Times
On Sunday, the New York Times published an op-ed on the ruling by a federal district judge in Indiana barring Governor Mike Pence from trying to blockade Syrian refugee resettlement in that state. The editorial called the rush of Republican governors to implement such exclusions a “shameless display of jingoism (which) was prompted by the Paris shooting massacre in November and fears—wildly driven by the Republican presidential rivals—that terrorists could infiltrate the United States as refugees despite a resettlement process that is one of the strictest in the world.”
As we reported last week, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt ruled that Mr. Pence’s order was unconstitutional, clearly discriminating against Syrians on the basis of their national origin. She found that the governor’s withholding of resettlement funds from the nonprofit agencies working with the families was “in no way” justified by what he described as his concern for the safety of Indiana residents.
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“This is essentially a policy of punishing Syrian refugees already in Indiana in the hopes that no more will come,” she wrote, noting that some Syrian refugees served by Exodus are as young as four years old. “It is beyond reasonable argument to contend that a policy that purportedly deters four-year-olds from resettling in Indiana is narrowly tailored to serve the State’s asserted interest in public safety,” Walton said.
While other suits have been brought and generally found against the governors, resettlement lawyers say this ruling is the first to call out their exploitation of the terrorism issue.—Ruth McCambridge