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State files appeal in Syrian refugee ruling

Posted at 4:05 PM, Mar 08, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Attorney General's Office formally filed an appeal and request for stay Tuesday in a ruling preventing Gov. Mike Pence from blocking federal funds to Syrian refugees.

In the appeal, the state's lawyers argue Pence and the federal government have "parallel responsibility for security and public safety," and that the federal government hasn't been forthcoming enough about its screening process for Syrian war refugees.

MORE | Judge: Gov. Pence can't stop refugee resettlement

"The State's concerns in this regard are far from 'speculative,'" the appeal says. "As recounted in the State's preliminary injunction memorandum, the refugee resettlement process is susceptible to manipulation – a fact even the State Department has acknowledged."

The appeal goes on to say current officials in President Barack Obama's administration have "expressed concerns specifically relating to refugees fleeing Syrian, owing to a lack of reliable intelligence on the war-torn region."

The appeal comes a little more than a week after U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt issued a strong rebuke of Pence's directive blocking federal funds to Exodus Refugee Immigration.

Pratt wrote in her opinion that Pence's directive had been "utterly ineffective" and "failed to survive strict scrutiny by a wide margin:"

"The State essentially argues that it is in the public interest for the Court to allow unconstitutional discrimination to continue during the pendency of this litigation—discrimination that harms both Exodus and its clients—so that it can gain perceived leverage in its dispute with the federal government over immigration policy and whether the federal government is complying with its obligations under the Refugee Act. The Court could hardly disagree more with the State’s position. The public interest is served when constitutional rights are vindicated."

Pratt will decide whether to grant the Pence administration's request to stay her ruling pending appeal.


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