Mike Pence, Trump’s pick for vice president, has mixed record on Muslim immigration

Published July 15th, 2016 - 11:14 GMT
Indiana Governor Mike Pence, on left. (Photo: TASOS KATOPODIS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Indiana Governor Mike Pence, on left. (Photo: TASOS KATOPODIS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Donald Trump said he would postpone announcing his vice presidential pick because of an attack in Nice, France that left at least 80 people dead.  

But Trump's campaign signaled on Thursday that it will choose Mike Pence as its nominee for vice president.  

Pence, a Republican, has been the governor of Indiana since 2013. He has a mixed record on his attitude towards Muslims and Syrian refugees settling in the US. 

Back in December, Pence spoke out against Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering America. “Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional,” Pence posted to Twitter at the time. 

But on Tuesday, as rumors swirled that Trump would be adding Pence to his ticket, the Indiana governor back-pedaled on his opposition to the proposed ban. When asked by a reporter to re-iterate his opposition to it, Pence said he didn’t necessarily agree with all of Trump’s positions but that he would support him nonetheless.

“I believe he [Trump] represents the kind of strong leadership at home and abroad that will, to borrow a phrase, make America great again,” Pence told ABC News reporter Tom Llamas, who had pressed him to make a statement about the proposed ban on Muslims entering the US.  

In November, after Daesh (also known as ISIS) killed 130 people in a series of coordinated attacks in Paris, Pence suspended the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana. He said his justification for doing so was that one of the Paris attackers had posed as a Syrian refugee. Pence suggested that the suspension was temporary, and would be lifted once the federal government ensured that “proper security measures are in place.”

Still, Pence’s order for all Indiana refugee groups to halt their work finding homes for Syrian families caused an uproar in Indiana. The American Civil Liberties Union sued the state shortly thereafter, arguing that Pence’s directive would withhold important funds sent to Indiana by the federal government. The express purpose of those funds was to pay for housing and medical care for Syrian refugees.  

In March, a federal judge struck down Pence’s order, saying it “clearly discriminate[d]” against Syrian refugees, The Indianapolis Star, a local newspaper, reported at the time.  

But Pence refused to back down. He ordered his state’s Attorney General to appeal the decision. “Hoosiers can be assured that my administration will continue to use every legal means available to suspend this [refugee resettlement] program in Indiana unless and until federal officials take steps to ensure the safety and security of our citizens,” he said. 

-Hunter Stuart

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