The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Chicago Isn't Happy With Rauner's 'Cowardly' Syrian Refugee Policy

By aaroncynic in News on Nov 18, 2015 7:45PM

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is facing an increasing backlash for joining now more than half the nation’s governors in declaring that Syrian refugees (at least temporarily) are not welcome.

On Monday, Rauner released a statement saying that Illinois would temporarily refuse Syrian refugees in the wake of the horrific attacks in Paris. Rauner was the 7th governor to make such a statement, and was followed by more than half of the governors in the United States, despite their lack of legal authority to refuse any refugees, along with the fact that officials have yet to identify a single attacker as a Syrian refugee.

Chicago aldermen are pushing back against Rauner, passing a resolution in City Council Wednesday reminding him that Chicago is a refuge and “sanctuary” city, NBC5 reports.

“Many of us on the City Council have expressed the opinion that Gov. Rauner has no legal authority to block Syrian refugees fleeing violence from being placed in Illinois,” said alderman Ed Burke, who introduced the symbolic resolution alongside Ald.s Carlos Ramirez-Rosa and Marty Quinn. “In the face of hatred and fear, my community chooses love,” wrote Rosa in a letter earlier this week.

Nearly 5,500 people signed a petition demanding Chicago take a stand on the issue.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel also praised the measure, saying:

"It cannot be in this moment when those in France have the courage to commit themselves to their values that we are weakened and walk away from. I'm honored that we've done this resolution. I'm honored that here in Chicago we speak up for what's right."

Chicago’s elected officials weren’t alone in blasting Rauner for rushing at the chance to join the chorus of mostly Republicans rushing to prove who can be the most xenophobic. The Sun-Times reports Rep. Luis Gutierrez called Rauner’s move “despicable and cowardly,” adding that it was “precisely the kind of reaction ISIS wanted. ISIS could not have written a better script,” he said.

Burke stated that the city would work with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to assist families fleeing war and violence. Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, chairman of the conference’s migration committee, also chided governors saying they’ll close their doors to refugees:

“Instead of using this tragedy to scapegoat all refugees, I call upon our public officials to work together to end the Syrian conflict peacefully...Until that goal is achieved, we must work with the world community to provide safe haven to vulnerable and deserving refugees who are simply attempting to survive.”
Even Crain’s Chicago rebuked Rauner, saying in an op-ed: “Illinois deserves better. And so, for that matter, do Syrians looking to the U.S. and the rest of the world for safe harbor from the terrorists Rauner says he's guarding us against.”

The Chicago Arab American Action Network, which alongside Organized Communities Against Deportations critisized Rauner’s move, said the City Council made the right decision. We’re heartened to see Chicago’s city council stand up to the culture of hate that’s shown itself in recent days,” said Hatem Abudayyeh. “Our city is better when we stand together in welcome of those in need of help.”