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Indiana Blocks Family Of Syrian Refugees: 'It's Heartbreaking'

By Emma G. Gallegos in News on Nov 18, 2015 9:46PM

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence at the Republican Jewish Coalition's annual meeting in Vegas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Indiana, a state best known for Hoosiers and its homophobic pizza, has blocked a family of Syrian refugees from entering the state. This is the first group to be diverted since 27 governors vowed to block Syrian refugees on Monday.

The family who has been waiting for three years in Jordan to be approved was blocked at the last minute by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, according to the New York Times. The family was exiled from Homs, Syria in 2011 and it includes a father who ran a used clothes store and his 4-year-old son. They will instead be relocating to Connecticut.

Though none of the terrorists in Paris were Syrian refugees and no refugees have been arrested on terrorist charges in the U.S. since 9/11, Pence and these other governors have cited security concerns in blocking Syrian refugees. The mayor of Roanoke, Virginia positively cited Japanese internment camps as an inspiration in his statement asking that Virginia block Syrian refugees:

A state official wrote to Exodus Refugee Immigration Inc., the group coordinating the relocation effort, saying the governor wants to "ensure the safety and security of all Hoosiers." The letter (PDF) states that the governor is suspending the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the state until they receive assurances from the federal government that "proper security measures have been achieved."

"It's heartbreaking. It's a really sad week for Hoosiers," Carleen Miller, executive director Exodus Refugee Immigration, told the Indy Star. "I don't think this represents Hoosiers as we've been overwhelmed with calls from supportive people wanting to help Syrian refugees. We need to have a welcoming message for refugees in this state."

Miller told the Times that Episcopal Migration Ministries helped her coordinate a Plan B that would help the family resettle in Connecticut. National aid agencies say that if some states continue to block refugees, it could turn into a logistical nightmare—not to mention emotional trying. Miller said having to find the family a new home was "one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in the eight years I’m here."