Federal appeals court blocks Indiana from refusing Syrian refugees

Federal appeals court blocks Indiana from refusing Syrian refugees

The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website] on Monday affirmed [opinion, PDF] an Indiana district court ruling that blocked [JURIST report] Indiana’s effort to prevent resettlement of Syrian refugee families in the state. The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] on behalf of Exodus Refugee Immigration [Facebook page]. The complaint [text, PDF] alleged that Indiana Governor Mike Pence [official website] violated the Constitution and federal law, specifically the Refugee Act [text], by attempts to interfere with resettlement of Syrian refugees. In an opinion by Judge Richard Posner, the Seventh Circuit agreed:

The district judge granted a preliminary injunction in favor of Exodus because she believed it likely to prevail in the trial on the merits that is the usual next stage of litigation after the issuance of such an injunction. She was right, and therefore the preliminary injunction is affirmed.

Omar Jadwat, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, welcomed the ruling [press release] as a “stinging rebuke” of Pence’s actions.

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 it was expecting to receive 19 Syrians [JURIST report] who had already been approved by the federal government for resettlement in Indiana. In June a district court in Texas rejected Texas’ attempts to halt Syrian refugee [JURIST report] resettlement 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. The refugee crisis is a global issue and in September Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said [JURIST report] that the draft of the final outcome document for the upcoming UN summit on refugees falls short of dealing with the issue effectively.