Catholic Church Settles Syrian Refugees In Indiana Despite Pence’s Objections

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December 8, 2015 2:25 pm
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Catholic Charities moved forward with its plans to settle Syrian refugees in the state on Monday, despite calls from Gov. Mike Pence (R) to keep refugees from Syria out of the state, the Indianapolis Star reported.

Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin announced in a Tuesday statement that the family arrived in Indianapolis on Monday night.

Pence and the archbishop had been at odds over the archdiocese’s decision to allow Catholic Charities to resettle a Syrian refugee family in the state even though the governor had ordered state agencies to suspend aid to refugees from Syria in November. The governor asked Catholic Charities to reroute the Syrian refugee family headed for Indiana and met with Tobin last week to discuss the archdiocese’s plans.

In his statement on Tuesday, Tobin noted that he made Pence aware of his decision to bring the family to the state.

“I listened to the governor’s concerns regarding security and prayerfully considered his request that we defer from welcoming them until Congress had approved new legislation regarding immigrants and refugees,” Tobin said. “I informed the Governor prior to the family’s arrival that I had asked the staff of Catholic Charities to receive this husband, wife and their two small children as planned.”

Greg Otolski, a spokesman for the archdiocese, told the Indianapolis Star that Catholic Charities will still apply for state benefits for the family of four.

“We hope the state will not single them out and deny them any benefits that they have coming,” he said.

The group also received donations to help cover the cost of resettling the Syrian refugees after the archdiocese announced that it would move ahead with plans to bring the family to Indianapolis.

Pence’s office maintained its opposition to resettling Syrian refugees in the state in a Tuesday statement.

“The governor holds Catholic Charities in the highest regard but respectfully disagrees with their decision to place a Syrian refugee family in Indiana at this time,” Pence spokesman Matt Lloyd said. “The safety and security of the people of Indiana is Governor Pence’s top priority. The State of Indiana will continue to suspend its participation in the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana until the federal government takes action to address the concerns raised about this program.”

Pence successfully rerouted a Syrian family set to arrive in the state in November. The governor asked a nonprofit refugee aid group not to resettle a Syrian refugee family in the state, and the family was redirected to Connecticut.

The state of Texas has also attempted to stop nonprofit groups from resettling Syrian refugees in the state. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission filed a lawsuit against the federal government and the International Rescue Committee in an attempt to block Syrian refugees headed to Texas this week. However, the state has so far been unsuccessful in keeping Syrian refugees from settling in the state.

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