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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence Can't Say Why He Turned Away Syrian Refugee Family (Video)

Republican Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana turned away a Syrian refugee family on Nov. 16 that had waited for three years in Jordan to come to the U.S., but could not give a specific reason for doing so during an interview with CNN on Nov. 19 (video below).

According to, Pence described all the possible problems with vetting Syrian refugees, but CNN host Chris Cuomo countered:

But why did this family have to pay the price of your uncertainty? They had been vetted for three years, this family, they were found not to have any significant threat, obviously, which is why they were being admitted.

The guy was a shopkeeper, they’ve got a little baby. This family did not have any earmarks of that. Why make them pay the price for your uncertainty? What fact can you point to? What do you know about these people to justify extending their distress?

In response, Pence bragged about Indiana's “long tradition of opening our hearts and our homes to refugees around the world," refused to answer Cuomo's question about this particular family, and added:

At the end of the day, when you see a Syrian refugee involved in a terrorist attack in Paris, someone who gained access to the European Union under this program, and we have the leadership of our Homeland Security and our FBI saying that we have serious gaps, I think it was altogether fitting that Republicans and Democrats in the Congress of the United States today voted overwhelmingly to pause this program.

However, the International Business Times notes that none of the identified Paris terrorists were Syrian refugees.

The Syrian refugee family that Pence turned away was accepted in Connecticut, and will be making their new home in New Haven, reports The New York Times.

The head of Indiana’s Division of Family Resources said on Nov. 17 that all future Syrian arrivals will be “suspended or redirected to another state that is willing to accept Syrian placements.”

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut told reporters this week that Pence can't legally reject Syrian refugees, reports The Indianapolis Star.

"But [Pence] is the same guy who signed a homophobic bill in the spring surrounded by homophobes," Malloy added. "So I’m not surprised by anything the governor does."

Pence's spokesman claimed that Malloy's comments were "sad, unfortunate and simply not true."

However, in reality, Pence did sign the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in March that would have allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBT people based upon religious freedom, but after major corporations threatened a boycott of the state, Pence signed fixes to the law to ensure the rights of LGBT people in April, reported The Indianapolis Star.

Sources:, The New York Times, The Indianapolis Star (2), International Business Times / Photo Credit: CNN Screenshot

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