State: Rauner places hold on Syrian refugees

Republican Bruce Rauner smiles after winning the midterm elections in Chicago, Illinois, November 4, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Young

By Shane Nicholson
Managing Editor

Governor Bruce Rauner announced Monday a suspension on the acceptance of Syrian refugees in Illinois following Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris that left 129 dead.

“Our nation and our state have a shared history of providing safe haven for those displaced by conflict, but the news surrounding the Paris terror attacks reminds us of the all-too-real security threats facing America,” Rauner said in a statement. “We must find a way to balance our tradition as a state welcoming of refugees while ensuring the safety and security of our citizens.

“Therefore, the state of Illinois will temporarily suspend accepting new Syrian refugees and consider all of our legal options pending a full review of our country’s acceptance and security processes by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.”

Illinois Department of Human Services says the state has taken in 131 refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war, the fourth most for a single state according to Time Magazine. The U.S. State Department says that around 1,600 refugees have settled in America since 2011.

Rauner joins governors from Michigan, Alabama, Texas and Louisiana in announcing the suspension of relocating Syrian refugees in their states.

“It is a noble cause to assist those who are fleeing oppressive and violent regimes such as ISIS,” said State Senator Dave Syverson (R-Rockford). “But in light of the attacks in Paris, we need to make sure that our own citizens are protected first.”

President Barack Obama last month said the U.S. would open its borders to a further 10,000 refugees from the war-torn nation in 2016. During a press conference Monday at the G20 summit in Turkey, he reiterated his support for refugees fleeing to America.

“The people who are fleeing Syria are the most harmed by terrorism,” he said. “It is very important that we do not close our hearts to those victims of such violence and, somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism.”

A video attributed to ISIS claimed it had plans to launch further attacks in nations involved in the ongoing battle against the Syria-based terrorist organization, including targeting Washington. But a Department of Homeland Security official told Reuters on Monday that there was no imminent threat in the U.S.

“While we take all threat seriously, we do not have specific credible information of an attack on the U.S. homeland,” the source said.

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