INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Governor Mike Pence has joined at least 23 other governors saying they will no longer accept Syrian refugees in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.
The vast majority of the governors are republican, but one democrat has also joined them.
The backlash comes after French authorities discovered one of the Paris attackers was a Syrian refugee.
Governor Pence said Monday he needs to be assured that the federal government is fully vetting the refugees.
“With regard to individuals in the wake of the terrorist attack in Paris, with regards to individuals, who are coming out of Syria, individuals who we cannot confirm their background or identity or intentions in this country, I think its appropriate for us to suspend the program,” said Gov. Pence.
But those who work with the fleeing Syrians say Governor Pence and the other governors are just perpetuating stereotypes.
“We should not be making decisions based on fear,” said Hazem Bata, the Secretary General of the Islamic Society of North America. “That’s exactly what ISIS wants and we’ll be playing right into their hands with these types of decisions,”
The group is based in Indianapolis, They’re one of the largest Islamic organizations in the country.
“They are coming to the United States to escape that type of brutality and mindset, not to propagate it even further,” said Bata. “Muslims are against terrorism, and in fact, most often Muslims are the biggest victims of terrorism.”
Exodus Refugee Immigration released a statement Monday in response to Gov. Pence’s decision.
“Hoosiers are a welcoming people and the opinion of our governor is not in line with our values to deny refuge to individuals and families fleeing war and terror,” said Carleen Miller, the group’s executive director.
Meanwhile the federal government remains committed to accepting 10,000 Syrian refugees.
“We think we can do this safely and in a way that represents the best of American values, which is accepting these people who are fleeing violence,” said Mark Toner, spokesman for the State Department.
Indiana has already accepted 40 Syrian refugee families. Muslims say the only way to combat misinformation is to get to know one another.
“The best advice that I can give, if you no longer want to be afraid of Muslims, get to know one,” said Bata.
Some have questioned if the governors even have the power to close their borders to refugees.
According to the Refugee Act of 1980, the federal government has the power to place refugees anywhere they want, but the states can make it harder to place the individuals.
What Governor Pence is asking for is proof from the federal government that all the refugees have been thoroughly vetted.