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A family of three Syrian refugees who planned to make a new start in Indiana this week were hastily diverted to Connecticut because of the recent xenophobic backlash against Syrians from multiple governors, including Indiana's Mike Pence (R).
The last-minute scramble to find a different home was set off when Pence declared Monday that Syrian refugees were not welcome in his state. Though they lack the legal authority to do so, Pence and 27 other governors said they would refuse to resettle Syrians who allegedly represent a security threat. Pence, like other governors, cited the Paris terrorist attacks as the reason for the move, though none of the nine attackers has been identified as a Syrian refugee.
The suddenly redirected family had already waited three years in Jordan to enter the United States and was scheduled to arrive in Indianapolis this week, according to The New York Times, which first reported the situation. That plan was jettisoned on Tuesday when the Indiana Division of Family Resources informed the local resettlement agency, Exodus Refugee Immigration, that the state wanted the family’s arrival “suspended or redirected to another state that is willing to accept Syrian placements,” according to the Times.
A Connecticut organization stepped up to help at least this one family. Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services announced on Wednesday that it had found housing in New Haven for the mother, father and 5-year-old boy.
Years of civil war in Syria have pushed at least 4.1 million people to flee the country, CNN reported. As Syrians and others streaming into Europe created a humanitarian crisis this fall, President Barack Obama announced that the United States would accept 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year.
Of the 28 governors who have said Syrians are unwelcome in their states all but one are Republicans. The sole Democrat is New Hampshire’s Maggie Hassan.
Applicants for refugee status in the United States go through an extensive vetting process. Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) mentioned that fact on Monday when he said that his state's border would remain open.
Once inside the U.S., refugees are legally allowed to move about the country and cannot be confined to one state.