States that refuse to help resettle Syrian refugees are guilty of illegal discrimination, a federal appeals court ruled Monday, delivering a judicial rebuke to GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, who as Indiana’s governor had tried to halt Syrian resettlement.
Judge Richard Posner, writing for the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, said there’s no evidence that Syrians are more dangerous, and he said even if they are, allowing Indiana to refuse to resettle them would only foist the problem onto neighboring states.
“Federal law does not allow a governor to deport to other states immigrants he deems dangerous,” Judge Posner wrote, saying the governor should instead report his fears to federal bureaucrats for redress.
Obama hasn’t set a Syrian target for 2017, but at the pace of the last few months the U.S. could process as many as 30,000. Still, the year got off to a slow start with just 17 refugees in the first few days: a family of nine that was resettled in New York and a family of eight settled in Massachusetts.
Mr. Pence, a first-term governor, had sought to beg out of the Syrian refugee program in 2015. He issued an order directing that his state refuse to cooperate with federal resettlement. Indiana also pressured local nonprofits who assist in resettlement to refuse Syrians.
But the appeals court rejected that, saying it amounted to singling out a nationality, which violates equal protection guarantees in the Constitution.
Immigrant-rights and civil liberties groups cheered the decision, saying it reaffirms the U.S. commitment to refugees.
Judge Posner, who has earned a reputation as a crusading jurist, said he has discovered no evidence (???) in the public record of any Syrian refugees who have been arrested or prosecuted for terrorist acts in the U.S.
The judge did not address the case of a Younis Al-Jayab, charged in January after authorities said he traveled to Syria and fought with Ansar al-Islam. Mr. Al-Jayab was an Iraqi, but he wasapproved as a refugee while living in Syria in 2012.