About the ACLU of Indiana's case:

On November 23, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and ACLU national, on behalf of Exodus Refugee Immigration, filed suit against Governor Mike Pence and the secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration to stop attempts by the governor to suspend resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana, claiming the governor's actions violate the United States Constitution and federal law. On December 2, we filed a memorandum in support of our motion for preliminary injunction.

  • Our lawsuit seeks to stop Gov. Pence from unconstitutionally denying the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana.
  • To deny the resettlement of any group of people based on nationality is not just morally wrong; it violates the U.S. Constitution and federal law, and erodes our own civil liberties.
  • Syrian refugees are fleeing violence and oppression and should not be blamed for the very terror they are fleeing.
  • Decisions concerning immigration and refugee resettlement are exclusively the province of the federal government, and Gov. Pence's attempts to pre-empt that authority violate both equal protection and civil rights laws and intrude on authority that is exclusively federal.
  • The United States has a rigorous and multi-layered security screening program in place for refugee resettlement that includes background checks by multiple agencies. Refugees undergo biometric tests, medical screenings, and in-person interviews with Department of Homeland Security officials.

Why Indiana?

There was a set of tangible circumstances that allowed the ACLU to file suit in Indiana, including an agency able to be a plaintiff, and the resettlement of a newly arriving family diverted to Connecticut as a result of Gov. Pence's Nov. 16 statement directing state agencies to suspend resettlement of additional Syrian refugees in Indiana.

The ACLU and ACLU of Texas are also legal counsel representing the International Rescue Committee to allow it to continue its work resettling refugees in Texas.

Should tragedies such as San Bernardino cause us to rethink our stance on refugees?

  • No. We mustn't attribute the actions or characteristics of two individuals to the entire Muslim community.
  • Calls for action targeting Muslim Americans as a whole are always wrong and contrary to American values.
  • Officially sanctioned discrimination, as we have pointed out here and in other contexts, would be contrary to our Constitution and to our way of life.
  • We urge elected officials not to politicize this tragedy for their own political gain or to justify discriminatory policies targeting American Muslims, Muslim immigrants or Muslim refugees.


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