Indiana Gov. Mike Pence cannot back down from his order to ban Syrian refugees from being settled in his state, and so Indiana officials have to back up his "outrageous order," according to an op-ed by The New York Times editorial board.
Pence is now running as vice-president alongside Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, but before he took that role, in December 2015, Pence said Trump's call to shut down Muslim immigration was "offensive and unconstitutional." Since then he has been "very supportive" of Trump's anti-immigration plans, the Times board wrote.
As vice-president, Pence must support Trump's plans, which has led to his state appealing a court order that rejected his Syrian ban. "As Mr. Trump's running mate, Mr. Pence is in no position to back down from carrying the ticket's nativist banner," according to the Times board.
"There stands Mr. Pence, on guard duty for the Trump campaign, while his pathetic anti-refugee position collapses in court as more than 170 Syrians are starting new lives in Indiana," the board wrote, adding that the federal refugee resettlement program decides where to send refugees, and states have little say in the matter.
Indiana officials are in federal court appealing the case. The social services group Exodus Refugee Immigration said Pence's order to block Syrian refugees by denying them social services is unconstitutional.
The Atlantic reported that, during the hearing, Judge Robert Posner asked Indiana's solicitor general Thomas Fisher, "Are Syrians the only Muslims Indiana fears?"
Posner and Fisher engaged back-and-forth about whether Syrians were being singled out in the ban. "Honestly, you are so out of it. You don't think there are dangers from other countries?" Judge Posner asked.
The Indy Star reported that Federal District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt struck down Pence's order in February, saying that "the withholding of funds from Exodus that are meant to provide social services to Syrian refugees in no way directly, or even indirectly, promotes the safety of Indiana citizens."
More than 20 governors protested the program, but since October 2015, 11,491 Syrian refugees have arrived in the U.S., according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.
The Atlantic's report noted that efforts to keep Syrians out have failed in Texas and Alabama.
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