Appeals court upholds order against Pence on Syrian refugees

Indiana Governor Mike Pence (WISH Photo)
Indiana Governor Mike Pence (WISH Photo)

NBC CHICAGO – Indiana Governor Mike Pence, the GOP nominee for Vice President, suffered a setback Monday in his efforts to block Syrian refugees from settling in his state.

Ruling in an ongoing case, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago affirmed a lower court ruling that Pence cannot block payments to social service agencies just because they are aiding Syrian refugees.

“The governor’s brief asserts ‘the state’s compelling interest in protecting its residents from the well-documented threat of terrorists posing as refugees,’” Judge Richard Posner wrote, in a scathing opinion posted Monday. “But the brief provides no evidence that Syrian terrorists are posing as refugees or that Syrian refugees have ever committed acts of terrorism in the United States.”

“He argues that his policy of excluding Syrian refugees is based not on nationality and thus is not discriminatory, but is based solely on the threat he thinks they pose to the safety of residents of Indiana,” Posner wrote. “But that’s the equivalent of his saying (not that he does say) that he wants to forbid black people to settle in Indiana, not because they’re black, but because he’s afraid of them.”

The judge noted there is “nothing to suggest that Indiana is a magnet for Syrians,” and that refugees from that nation had so far been settled in at least 40 states.

“If Syrian refugees do pose a terrorist threat, implementation of the governor’s policy would simply increase the risk of terrorism in whatever states Syrian refugees were shunted to,” Posner said. “Federal law does not allow a governor to deport to other states immigrants he deems dangerous.” provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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