Pence, archbishop meet amid refugee flap

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence met Wednesday with the Roman Catholic archbishop of Indianapolis, a day after the archdiocese said it has the means to resettle a Syrian refugee family bound for the state.

The Associated Press saw Archbishop Joseph Tobin walk into the office of Pence, who blocked state agencies from distributing federal money for Syrian refugees following the deadly Paris attacks. One Syrian family being resettled by another refugee group was redirected to Connecticut as a result.

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis has said it can settle a Syrian refugee family of four anticipated to arrive in Indiana later this month, but its spokesman Greg Otolski noted it may not happen if Indiana is perceived to be hostile or unwelcoming.

Tobin has publicly called for the family of four, which has undergone an intense, two-year vetting process, to be settled in the Indianapolis area, though Otolski said the archdiocese wants to focus on the plight of the refugees and avoid an overtly political debate.

The Obama administration has said the vetting process for refugee resettlements is thorough and that states lack legal authority to block the funding.

The Republican governor has not shifted his stance and blamed the administration of President Barack Obama for failing to “provide adequate security and background information to governors across the country,” Pence spokesman Matt Lloyd said Tuesday.

Also Wednesday, Indianapolis-based Exodus Refugee Immigration requested a temporary hold on Pence’s order. In a federal court filing, the organization said Pence’s action would “frustrate and thwart” its mission of helping refugees and that it would be difficult to make up the lost government funding.

Exodus filed a federal lawsuit last week challenging the order Pence issued on Nov. 16, three days after the Paris attacks.

A judge is scheduled to talk Monday with attorneys from both sides to set a hearing on the group’s request for a temporary injunction.

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