By Bill Chambers
On Friday, November 20, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) held a press conference at their office and were joined by US Representative Jan Schakowsky, Suzanne Akhras Sahloul of the Syrian Community Network, multiple faith leaders, immigrant advocates and two families of Syrian refugees. All were there to demand that Governor Rauner change his position and show compassion for Syrian refugees fleeing the devastating war in their country.
After the terrorist attacks in Paris, Governor Rauner stated that the State of Illinois was temporarily suspending the acceptance of any new Syrian refugees into the state. Although Governor Rauner, or any governor, does not have the power to decide where refugees are settled, the governor’s statement has contributed to an atmosphere of fear and hostility toward the besieged Syrian refugees. In addition, the House passed by a wide margin a bill to place extreme restrictions on the admittance of Syrian refugees that if implemented would halt them coming to the U.S. completely.
Dr. Mohammed Kaiseruddin, Chairman, Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC), spoke about how “inviting refugees to our country is to our own benefit.” He described the vetting process that refugees go through before they even get here and that many have died on the way. He stressed, “Do the right thing. Be welcoming.” He noted that there is a growing hatred of Muslims in this country and described the two Muslim men who had just been taken off a plane at Chicago’s Midway Airport when someone felt “threatened” because they were speaking Arabic. He also described how the men stood up for their rights, called 9-11, and demanded to be cleared right away so they could still take their same flight home to Philadelphia.
US Representative Jan Schakowsky spoke out strongly against the Governor’s actions and the House of Representatives bill that she voted against. “The State of Illinois has long been a welcoming place for refugees and for immigrants and shame on you Governor Rauner for saying we will not take refugees.” Representative Schakowsky also shared how this rejection of refugees fleeing persecution was a strong personal issue for her.
Read the entire article on The Chicago Monitor.