If Gov. Pence’s order stands, charity will settle Syrian family in Indiana

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INDIANAPOLIS (Dec. 1, 2015) — A religious charity says it will be able to fund a Syrian refugee family’s arrival in Indiana, even if Gov. Mike Pence does not drop an order blocking state agencies from distributing federal funding for such refugees.

Archdiocese of Indianapolis spokesman Greg Otolski says private donors have told Catholic Charities in Indianapolis they can pay to settle the family later this month.

Otolski added that the family may be settled elsewhere if Indiana is perceived as “hostile” or “unwelcoming.”

Pence directed agencies in November to suspend resettlement efforts over security concerns following the deadly Paris attacks. One Syrian refugee family bound for Indiana was redirected to Connecticut as a result.

The Obama administration has said states lack legal authority to block funding and could be punished if services are denied.

Governor Mike Pence spoke with CBS4 on Tuesday night about the controversy. Pence said he was planning on meeting with officials from Catholic Charities in Indianapolis to discuss the issue.

“I’ll be speaking tomorrow with the leadership of Catholic charities to explain our perspective here,” said Pence. “I think it’s important that we pause this program and I’m calling on the Congress and administration to take decisive action…  to ensure that anyone coming in to our nation and our state doesn’t represent a threat to our people.”

“We’re in contact with the state pretty frequently in trying to tell people that this family has gone through a pretty extensive background check…  and that they don’t pose any threat,” said Otolski in an interview with CBS4.  “We want to provide as much help as we can to this family because they’re fleeing the kind of violence everybody’s so concerned about. They’re victims of this violence that’s been going on by ISIS and they want what everybody wants. They want peace. They’re a family that wants peace.”

Drew Anderson, communications director of the Indiana Democratic Party, released the following statement about the news on Tuesday:

“Governor Mike Pence was quick to make the Syrian refugee crisis a political one by running to the mic without all the facts from his own administration. That’s why it’s great to see a religious charity organization reclaim the true meaning of ‘Hoosier Hospitality’ by welcoming a war-torn Syrian family to the State of Indiana. While Mike Pence may not have the authority to bar this family from the state, he still can prevent them from receiving critical resources that are needed to survive, including health care and meals. Indiana’s governor may be playing politics and sticking with his ideology, but Hoosiers know that Indiana should continue to be a welcoming place.”

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