On Monday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence announced he is suspending the resettlement of Syrian refugees in our state. We believe the Governor’s statement unfairly characterizes Hoosiers as unwelcoming, and does not reflect the diversity most of us value in our communities.
We too are saddened by the tragedy and loss of innocent lives in Paris. But we must be resolved to live in a manner that reflects our values and not live in fear. Millions of refugees are fleeing violence in their homelands, trying to escape from the same terrorist groups who have committed acts of violence in other parts of the world. To deny access to these refugees would be inhumane.
More than 4 million Syrians have left their homeland in search of a safe haven and have a right to be treated with basic human dignity. Sheltering refugees from violence is one of the most noble acts a country can undertake. Many Hoosiers already work tirelessly to help welcome the stranger. Refugees are making enormous contributions to our state economically, culturally and socially. In the past two years, about 30 Syrians have been resettled in Indiana and many Hoosiers are open to welcoming more families.
We understand the need to be safe and to protect ourselves from those who wish to do us harm. U.S. security agencies and the Department of Homeland Security already have strict measures in place to screen refugees. To roll up the welcome mat is to play into how the terrorists would want Americans to react – to change our way of living and to cause fear and misunderstanding of the Syrian people.
Given the urgent need to resettle refugees, and Hoosiers’ long history of helping those in need from around the world, we call on Governor Pence to reconsider his position. By welcoming Syrian refugees, we show the world our resolve to be welcoming and inclusive, and we stand up for the quintessential American values we hold dear: liberty and justice for all.
American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana
Jane Henegar, Executive Director
Center for Victim and Human Rights
Jill OBarske, Chair
Raio Krishnayya, Executive Director
Manoj Rana, Treasurer
Jessica Topor, Staff Attorney
Rachel Pendley, Staff Attorney
Mladenka Sitnikoska, Law Clerk
Exodus Refugee Immigration
Carleen Miller, Executive Director
Immigrant Welcome Center
Terri Morris Downs, Executive Director
Muslim Alliance of Indiana
Rima Khan-Shahid, Executive Director