[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana [official website] on Monday blocked [order, PDF] Governor Mike Pence’s order keeping Syrian refugees from settling in Indiana. The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] on behalf of Exodus Refugee Immigration [advocacy website] in November after Pence announced his plans to suspend resettlement of Syrian refugees in the state as well as assistance from state agencies. Judge Tanya Walton Pratt granted a preliminary injunction against Pence’s order on Monday, finding it discriminatory:
The State’s conduct clearly constitutes national origin discrimination. Although the State says it has a compelling reason for doing so—the safety of Indiana residents—the withholding of federal funds from Exodus that it would use to provide social services (such as cultural integration training, job skills training and adult English language training) to Syrian refugees in no way furthers the State’s asserted interest in the safety of Indiana residents. In balancing the competing claims of injury, it is clear that Exodus and its refugee clients will be harmed by the State’s directive. When this is weighed against the near complete absence of harm to the State, it is clear that equity demands a preliminary injunction to issue.
Exodus Refugee Immigration is a non-profit organization that assists refugees after they have been federally approved and screened. The organization said in November that was expecting to receive 19 Syrians who had already been approved by the federal government for resettlement in Indiana.
The rights of migrant populations has emerged as one of the most significant humanitarian issue around the world, as millions seek asylum from conflict nations. Last month a federal judge in Texas rejected a Texas lawsuit [JURIST report] seeking to halt the federal resettlement of Syrian refugees in the state. The judge ruled that Texas officials had failed to show a “substantial threat of irreparable injury” in their request for an injunction to stop further Syrian refugee resettlement. Refugee resettlement is also controversial in Europe. Last week the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said that new measures put in place by many European countries are too restrictive and place undue hardships [JURIST reports] on refugees and asylum-seekers