Church group brings Syrian family to Indiana over Pence wish

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis says it has brought a Syrian refugee family into the state despite Indiana Gov. Mike Pence's request that it not do so.

Archbishop Joseph Tobin said the family arrived safely in Indianapolis on Monday night.

Tobin met last week with Pence to discuss the governor's order blocking state agencies from assisting Syrian refugees following the deadly Paris attacks last month. Pence said he asked Tobin to not resettle the family in the state.

Tobin said in a written statement Tuesday morning that he "prayerfully considered" Pence's request but decided that assisting the refugee couple with two small children was an "essential part" of the Catholic church's identity.

The governor's office said it "will continue to suspend its participation in the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana" for security reasons.

"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 in a written statement.

Pence was among 30 governors who last month asked the federal government to stop the resettlement of Syrian refugees until security concerns could be addressed.

“Prior to the terrorist attacks in Paris, which involved a Syrian refugee as one of the attackers, the Obama Administration’s own FBI Director said there are ‘gaps’ in the Syrian refugee resettlement program," Lloyd said. "Yesterday, the chairman of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee stated that ‘the U.S. government has information to indicate that individuals tied to terrorist groups in Syria have already attempted to gain access to our country through the U.S. refugee program.’

“Despite these facts, the administration continues to ignore calls from governors of both parties, as well as a bipartisan majority in the U.S. House, to pause and strengthen the program."

Lloyd said the Indiana Department of Health will continue to reimburse county health departments for screening of all refugees, including those from Syria. He also said Indiana will continue to welcome refugees from other countries. 


Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Story Continues Below

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.