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Illinois Among States Saying They Won't Take Syrian Refugees

By Rachel Cromidas in News on Nov 16, 2015 6:00PM

Photo credit: John Gress/Getty Images

Updated Tuesday Nov.17 at 9:00 a.m.: Now the governors of at least 27 states, including many in the Midwest and the South, say they won't admit Syrian refugees in the wake of the devastating terrorist attacks on Paris Friday night—Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner joined them Monday.

It's unclear whether state governors' actually have the authority to restrict refugees from resettling in within their borders, but it appears the answer is that they can't.

Those states also include Michigan and Indiana in the Midwest, as well as Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Arkansas. The governors each cited security concerns in announcements Monday, including word that one of the Paris attackers may have been a Syrian refugee, but President Barack Obama is among those already calling the decision un-American.

According to ABC, over 7 million Syrians have been displaced by war, and thousands have been referred to resettle in the United States by the United Nations.

Rauner said the Paris attacks compelled this change in policy in a statement Monday morning.

"Our national 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. 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."

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder released a statement Sunday that also said the state would not accept any more Syrian refugees until the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reviewed its procedures for screening and relocating refugees, CNBC reported.

"Michigan is a welcoming state and we are proud of our rich history of immigration," Snyder's statement read. "But our first priority is protecting the safety of our residents."

Michigan has one of the largest Arab-immigrant populations in the U.S., including about 120,000 Michigan residents of Lebanese and Syrian decent, according to CNBC.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence's statement took a similar tact:

“Effective immediately, I am directing all state agencies to suspend the resettlement of additional Syrian refugees in the state of Indiana pending assurances from the federal government that proper security measures have been achieved," Pence said. "Unless and until the state of Indiana receives assurances that proper security measures are in place, this policy will remain in full force and effect.”

President Obama said in a press conference Monday in Turkey that he is committed to continuing to accept Syrian refugees, who are screened through government security checks before being admitted into the U.S. Obama reminded listeners that "many of these refugees are the victims of terrorism themselves."

Of the Republican governors who want the U.S. to close its borders to Syrian refugees, or only admit Syrians who are Christians, Obama said, "That's shameful. That's not American, that's not who we are."