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Indiana Organizations Speak Out Against Immigration Order

The Islamic Society of North America, located in Plainfield, IN, has increased security in the last six months due to threats.

Photo: Drew Daudelin

The Islamic Society of North America, located in Plainfield, Ind., is one of the largest Islamic organizations in the U.S.

The ACLU of Indiana says it’s working with affiliates across the country to help those living in the state who are impacted by President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration.

The executive order temporarily suspends all refugee resettlement and bars travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Some Burmese and Syrian refugees who were scheduled to arrive in the state this week are now in limbo. ACLU of Indiana Executive Director Jane Henegar says they underwent intense screening before being approved for resettlement.

“Some of the families that have been stopped from coming this week have been vetted for four years,” Henegar says.

She says the ACLU of Indiana isn’t taking any legal action at this time, although the national ACLU plans to challenge the legality of the executive order.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees says in a statement it estimates about 800 refugees were set to travel to the U.S. this week alone.

Hazem Bata is the Secretary General of the Islamic Society of North America, which is based in Plainfield. He calls the ban un-American, but says he’s encouraged by the support Muslims are receiving from people of all faiths.

“Muslims are only about one percent of the population,” he says. “Alone, we aren’t going to be able to accomplish much. However, when you unite with others that are like-minded, that are sympathetic to our cause, that share our values, together we can do something.”

Bata says the government can ensure the safety of its citizens without infringing on the rights of Muslims.

Catholic Charities of Indiana says it’s anticipating a considerable drop in the number of refugees coming to the state.

“We had over 200 people we were expecting to arrive before the end of February, but their lives are all of a sudden turned upside down by this,” says Greg Otolski, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

Otolski says nearly all of the money that supports Catholic Charities’ refugee resettlement program comes from the federal government.

“We’re expecting that it could have a serious impact on our ability to do this work,” Otolski says.

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