State appealing ruling in Syrian refugee lawsuit

The state of Indiana officially filed notice Tuesday that it intends to appeal the ruling by a federal judge last month that blocked Gov. Mike Pence’s order barring state agencies from helping Syrian refugees resettle in Indiana.

Judge Tanya Walton Pratt of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana granted Exodus Refugee Immigration’s request for a preliminary injunction Feb. 29. Exodus sued Pence after he issued his order in November halting funding that helped Syrian refugees relocate, citing security concerns following the terrorist attacks in Paris.

The state is also asking Pratt to stay implementation of her order while the appeal to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals is pending. The preliminary injunction temporarily prevents the state from taking any actions to interfere with or deter resettlement of Syrian refugees by Exodus in Indiana. In its motion to stay, the state says, “The Order threatens injury to the Defendants because it leaves the State unable to protect its citizens against potential terrorists who might pose as refugees fleeing Syria by deterring resettlement of such refugees in Indiana. The State’s concerns in this regard are far from ‘speculative.’”

Pratt ruled Pence’s order “clearly discriminates” against Syrian refugees and that withholding federal grant money from the group “in no way furthers the state’s asserted interest in the safety of Indiana residents.”

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