The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s policy on refugee resettlement on Monday, at one point calling Pence’s arguments “nightmare speculation.”
“The governor of Indiana believes, though without evidence, that some of these persons were sent to Syria by ISIS to engage in terrorism and now wish to infiltrate the United States in order to commit terrorist acts here,” the decision by a panel of three judges reads.
It continues: “No evidence of this belief has been presented, however; it is nightmare speculation.”
Gov. Pence, who is also the Republican vice presidential nominee, has been a vocal critic of President Obama’s initiative to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees this year, citing security concerns and the belief that ISIS operatives can sneak into the United States under the guise of refugees and commit terrorism on US soil.
Pence’s stance against refugee resettlement reached its apotheosis following the Paris terror attacks in November 2015.
In light of the attacks, he announced that Indiana would not accept any incoming Syrian refugees and directed state agencies not to allocate federal funds towards refugee resettlement. His announcement came around the same time that his running mate and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump proposed a temporary ban on Muslim immigration into the US.
Exodus Refugee Immigration, an organisation that works with refugees to resettle them in the United States, sued Pence in conjunction with the American Civil Liberties Union on the grounds that Pence did not have the constitutional right to ban refugees from Indiana.
In February, the court ruled in favour of Exodus and the ACLU, with Judge Tanya Walton Pratt noting that Pence’s directive “in no way [furthered] the State’s asserted interest in the safety of Indiana residents.”
Pence’s administration appealed the decision, and a hearing was set for September 14 at the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. In its decision today, the court unanimously upheld the lower court’s ruling, emphasising the stringency of the refugee vetting process while acknowledging that “there can be no certainty that no terrorist will ever slip through the screen.”
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