Gov. Rauner’s announcement to suspend resettlement of Syrian refugees in Illinois is an uncalled-for response to the tragic events in Paris a couple of weeks ago. He and at least 25 other governors are simply pandering to the fears of conservative voters.
Thousands of refugees already approved for resettlement are in camps in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, awaiting sponsors to assist them as they seek to escape the violence that has consumed their homelands. Most are from Syria, and they have been thoroughly screened to eliminate the possibility of terrorists being among them.
The U.S. has a tradition of extending a compassionate welcome to such individuals. To turn our backs at this point is an unfortunate display of fear and misguided self-interest.
Linda Hartke, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, put it well in her recent comments: “… as Americans, as global citizens, we must choose to stand for hope and life. We must not bow to the fear that ISIS spreads, to the seeds of doubt they cast over the land, or to the test they present to our most cherished values.”
Rauner’s statement was framed very nicely by his supposed concerns for the safety and security of the citizens of this state. Unfortunately, he missed an opportunity to uphold one of our most cherished values – that as citizens of this country, fear is not one of our guiding principles.