A federal appeals court ruled on Monday that states that refuse to resettle Syrian Muslim refugees are guilty of illegal discrimination. Judge Richard Posner, writing for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, claims there’s no evidence that these Muslims are more dangerous than other refugees.
Judge Posner claimed he had discovered no evidence in the public record of any Syrian refugees who have been arrested or prosecuted for terrorist acts in the U.S. Immigrant rights and civil liberties groups cheered the judge’s decision, saying it reaffirms the U.S. commitment to refugees.
Posner didn’t address the case of Sacramento, California resident Aws Younis Mohammed Al-Jayab, who is charged by federal authorities with returning to Syria to fight for the terror group Ansar al-Islam. Though Al-Jayab is an Iraqi, he was approved as a refugee while living in Syria in 2012.
A number of states balked last year when President Obama announced he wanted to accept some 10,000 Syrian refugees in fiscal year 2016. The administration blew past that goal, with a final tally of 12,587 Syrians as of Friday, which marked the last day of the fiscal year.
President Obama has set a goal for resettling 110,000 refugees total in 2017 — up from 85,000 the previous year and 70,000 in 2015. Only about seven-percent of applicants from Syria have had their refugee requests rejected.
Last Friday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott followed through on his promise to pull his state from the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program. In the past year more than 6,700 refugees resettled in Texas — nine percent of the total coming into the U.S.
Refugee resettlement in Texas is funded by the federal government, but managed by the state. Texas will continue to manage the federal program until January 31, 2017.
Posner’s opinion was joined by Judges Frank Easterbrook and Diane Sykes. If Sykes’ name seems familiar, it because she’s on Donald Trump’s supreme Court shortlist.