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Editorial: Don't slam door on Syrian refugees

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Speaking of Belgium, Illinois ain’t Belgium.

Unless Gov. Bruce Rauner can point to a plausible terrorist threat to Illinois from disaffected Syrian jihadists — Belgium’s very real problem — we can’t see any good purpose in his temporary ban on Syrian refugees entering the state.

Syrian refugees are hardly overwhelming Illinois. According to the U.S. State Department, only 131 Syrian refugees have settled in the state so far this year — enough to fill a few school buses. And, last we heard, they were fleeing the same barbarians, ISIS, that has everybody else alarmed.


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Should the vetting process for Syrian refugees be reviewed? Sure, why not? That’s always worth doing, regardless of what war-torn nation a refugee might be fleeing. But to declare a ban, even one said to be temporary, is a gross overreaction. It does nothing but stoke an outsized fear of strangers.

As if we were not all strangers once.

Fortunately, Rauner — as well as the Republican governors of nine other states — probably can’t do it. Once the U.S. government accepts a refugee, immigration lawyers say, he or she is free to live anywhere. A governor can’t slam the door.

Nor should a governor wish to.

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