SPRINGFIELD — A day after Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner joined a stampede of Republican governors seeking to shut the door on Syrian refugees coming to their states, area GOP congressmen are weighing in on the brewing issue.A
A letter signed by eight members of Illinois' delegation calls on President Obama to cease the flow of Syrian and Iraqi refugees into the U.S. until there is an updated system in place that can verify the refugees' backgrounds and provide "absolute certainty" that no individual with sympathies to ISIS is allowed into the country.
Among the signees are Republican Rodney Davis of Taylorville, , Adam Kinzinger of Channahon and Darin LaHood of Dunlap, who represent Central Illilnois.
"Balancing our nation’s compassion with our basic security needs is particularly difficult during times of great uncertainty and heightened threats," the letter notes. "However, given the inability to vet these individuals against government records in Syria, we ask that the administration respond to the legitimate concerns of the American people by ceasing the flow of refugees from Syria or Iraq until there is an updated system in place that can actually verify the background of each refugee."
The attacks in Paris shined a spotlight on the Obama administration's announcement in September that the U.S. would accept 10,000 refugees over the next year.
Although there is little states can do to reject refugees from entering their territories, Rauner is among more than GOP chief executives announcing he wants to stop Syrians from entering Illinois.
On Monday, Obama said the U.S. has to "step up and do its part" in relation to the war that has sent Syrians fleeing their war-torn nation.
In their letter, the congressmen urge Obama to rethink his policy.
"Our number one priority must be protecting the American homeland and keeping the American people safe from terror attacks. The recent bombing of a Russian airliner and the coordinated, barbaric terrorist attacks in Paris should erase any doubt about whether ISIS is simply a regional threat that can be contained geographically," adding that "ISIS is intent on waging a global war against our way of life..." states the letter.
In a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois criticized the Republican initiative, calling the GOP viewpoint "shortsighted."
“Some have reacted to the tragedy in France by calling for us to suspend refugees coming to this country. Many of these people have not reflected on the refugee situation in our country. Each year, the United States accepts about 70,000 refugees from around the world," said Durbin, adding that "vetting process must continue, and when it comes to suspicious circumstances, must be doubled in its intensity to make certain that our nation is safe."