States Refusing Refugees: Refugees Turned Away

Published: November 17, 2015

States Refusing Refugees: Refugees Turned Away, Terrorist attacks are intended to inspire fear, and that’s exactly how several Republican governors, including Gov. Bruce Rauner, have reacted to the mass murders in Paris. Not with courage but with heightened alarm, anxiety and dread.

On Monday, Rauner announced that Illinois will temporarily stop taking in Syrian refugees, stating that “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.”

Dr. Zaher Sahloul, an Oak Lawn physician and past president of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, calls the decision by Rauner and at least seven other Republican governors “immoral” and “un-American.”

“Because of the attack on Paris, we’re going to punish the people fleeing Syria because of that terrorism,” said Sahloul, a founder of the Syrian American Medical Society who has made numerous trips into Syria at risk of his life to treat Syrian civilians caught up in that nation’s bloody civil war.

“These are people, women and children, who have had bombs dropped on them by a barbaric regime,” he said. “These are people fleeing oppression, who have lost their homes, everything they own and are simply trying to save the lives of their families. To close our doors in the face of such people is immoral.”

Sahloul has testified before the United Nations, written opinion pieces in national publications and met with U.S. senators in an attempt to explain the desperate situation of the Syrian people and their need for help.

While more than 120 people were murdered in Paris last Friday, an estimated 250,000 have died in Syria since a civil war began in 2011, launched on social media by people trying to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad. As the U.S. sought the ouster of Assad, Russia became his ally. And the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, was born, claiming territory in both Syria and Iraq while murdering any civilians who refused to join it.

Millions have fled Syria, creating one of the greatest humanitarian crises in recent history. Most have been forced into refugee camps in neighboring countries that have difficulty feeding, clothing or offering medical treatment to them all.

In recent months, as public attention became focused on the issue, many countries have promised to make room for the refugees.

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