Despite Gov. Bruce Rauner's statement that Illinois is temporarily closed off to Syrian refugees, immigration groups say resettling plans aren't changing.
The federal Refugee Act of 1980 gives the President authority to accept refugees and mentions nothing about governors having the ability to deny them entry. Plans to move refugees to Illinois are continuing despite Rauner's comments.
"There a few Syrian refugees that are scheduled to be coming from what I've heard, but I have not heard anything that's indicating that's going to be stopping," said Lawrence Benito, executive director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.
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Benito says even though he believes Rauner's statement has no legal standing, he still wants to get Rauner's support on accepting refugees, and plans to meet with the governor's office Friday.
Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) has the same doubts about Rauner's authority in these matters, and questions why Rauner would want to turn certain refugees away.
"I'm also aware of people who are Christians who were tortured and assaulted over in Syria who are trying to get into our country, so I don't know if that's the kind of people he wants to keep from coming here," Cullerton said. "So I think it just requires a little bit of study."
More than half of all 50 states have said they won't accept Syrian refugees in the wake on the attacks on Paris.
According to data from the U.S. State Department, fewer than 200 Syrian refugees have been resettled in Illinois since 2010. The majority were placed in Chicago and its suburbs, with 35 being placed in Rockford so far this year.