Charity Fights Back Against Anti-Refugee Governors

Photo: Santi Palacios/AP Photo.
Update: The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against Indiana Governor Mike Pence over his refusal to let a charity resettle a Syrian refugee family. The suit, filed on Monday on behalf of Exodus Refugee Immigration, said Pence's decision, "is not only ethically wrong, it is unconstitutional."

The family of three was supposed to move to Indiana on November 17, but charity employees were forced to find another arrangement after Pence's decision. They went to Connecticut, but another 19 refugees will settle in Indiana in the next few months, according to the Washington Post.

25 other governors have said Syrian refugees cannot settle in their states, and another six expressed serious reservations. Syrian refugees face a more stringent screening process than any other refugee applying for status in the U.S.

This story was originally published on November 16, 2015.

For Syrian refugees trying to resettle their families in the United States, the terrorist attacks in Paris could cut off what few opportunities existed for them here. President Obama promised to bring 10,000 refugees to America in the coming year, but some politicians are already shutting the door on people escaping the violence in their home countries.

The governors of 24 states, as of today, have announced that they don't want Syrian refugees in their states, saying that they couldn't trust that the people could be properly screened. Michigan, one of these states, is home to a large and vibrant Muslim community, and some 2,000 refugees have settled there in the past year. Approximately 200 are Syrian, and others are from Iraq and other war-torn nations.

Authorities in Paris say that one of the eight attackers who killed more than 130 people traveled to France through Greece on a Syrian passport. Republican presidential candidates were quick to call for an end to refugee resettlement. Ted Cruz — whose father immigrated to Canada and then the U.S. from Cuba — said on Sunday that America should accept only Christian refugees; Donald Trump — whose mother was a Scottish immigrant — has said that the U.S. should kick out all Syrian refugees and refuse to take any others; Bobby Jindal — whose parents came to the U.S. from India — said that the nation should seal its borders; Ben Carson said that accepting Syrian refugees is a bad idea.

These alarmist opinions are not based in reality. According to a report from the Department of Homeland Security, many law-enforcement agencies are concerned about the growing threat of domestic terrorism. A study released this summer found that at least 48 people have been killed by right-wing extremists since 2001, more than twice the number killed by people who identify as jihadists. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, 4.2 million Syrians have already left the country, and another 7.6 million are internally displaced.

Democratic candidates have been more sympathetic to the plight of Syrians: Both Martin O'Malley and Hillary Clinton called for the U.S. to take in 65,000 refugees in the next year. Bernie Sanders also wants to bring more refugees here, although he has not said how many.

For full coverage of the attacks on Paris, click here.
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