Opposing Rauner, Chicago City Council votes to welcome Syrian refugees

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Two Syrian refugee families who had been approved to be moved to the U.S. and were scheduled to arrive in Indianapolis on Wednesday have been officially told they are not welcome in the Hoosier state.

In Chicago, a resolution was introduced Wednesday in the city council opposing Gov. Bruce Rauner's decision to block Syrian immigrants from entering Illinois.

Ed Burke, the city's longest-serving alderman, spearheaded the resolution to rebuke Gov. Rauner's declared Illinois moratorium on Syrian refugee resettlement.

"The governor of Illinois has no authority in this regard nor do the governors of these other states," said Ald. Burke, 14th Ward.

The city council has no authority on immigration, but that did not stop the aldermen -many whose parents or grandparents were immigrants- from passing a resolution reaffirming Chicago as a welcoming city.

"I think about what this country and what this city meant to me," said Ald. Danny Solis, 25th Ward.

"So that's why I'm so proud to join with Alderman Burke in bringing forward this resolution," said Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, 35th Ward.

Ramirez-Rosa also brought to the gallery a Syrian refugee family that arrived in Chicago months ago.

"We welcome refugees from war-torn areas historically," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

In Springfield, Gov. Rauner doubled down on his Monday declaration suspending the resettlement of Syrians in Illinois.

A spokesperson for Rauner said in a statement: "A state department official confirmed to our staff this morning that ISIS has demonstrated an interest in infiltrating refugee populations headed to the west."

Chicago-based immigration rights activists say they have a meeting with the governor on Friday.

"We're going to hear what their thought process was. We're going to give them our perspective," said Lawrence Benito, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

Meanwhile, conservative radio talk show host Charles Butler says Syrian immigration poses more than a security issue.

"Where are they going to work? Who's going to support them? Where are the jobs coming from?" Butler said.

Mayor Emanuel said if Paris has not moved to ban Syrian immigrants, how could Chicago - which he called "the Paris of the prairie" - do anything differently?

"An ocean may separate us but it's our values that bind us together," Emanuel said.

And once more the disclaimer, there is a consensus among the legal experts that neither state nor city officials have any power to decide who is allowed to enter the United States. It is entirely a federal matter.
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