Sneed exclusive: Burke plans to reaffirm Chicago as sanctuary

SHARE Sneed exclusive: Burke plans to reaffirm Chicago as sanctuary

Ald. Ed Burke has a few words for Gov. Bruce Rauner and his chance to block Syrian refugees from coming to Illinois. | Brian Jackson/Sun-Times

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A safe place . . .

Sneed has learned Ald. Ed Burke (14th) plans to introduce a resolution at Wednesday’s City Council meeting reaffirming Chicago’s historic role as a place of sanctuary and refuge.

It’s a thwack at Gov. Bruce Rauner’s decision Monday to block Illinois to Syrian immigrants fleeing the ravages of war.

“What authority does Gov. Rauner have to do this?” said Ald. Burke.

“Many of us on the City Council have expressed the opinion Gov. Rauner has NO legal authority to block new Syrian refugees fleeing violence from being placed in Illinois,” said Ald. Burke, who is the powerful chairman of the Council’s finance committee.

Sneed is told the resolution is also being co-sponsored by Ald. Marty Quinn (13th) and Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th).

The resolution comes in the wake of the Islamic State (ISIL) sponsored terrorist attacks in Paris, which killed 129 people — and follows Rauner’s statement Monday that he would suspend resettling Syrian refugees in Illinois until all legal options are considered.

It also flew in the face of President Obama announcing a goal of allowing 10,000 Syrian refugees to seek asylum in the U.S. in 2016 before the deadly massacre in Paris.

  • Stated Obama on Monday while attending a conference in Turkey: “Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values.”
  •  Stated Burke on Tuesday: “As Mayor Emanuel has said so many times, Chicago is the most American of cities, a city of immigrants, a beacon of hope for immigrants,” said Burke.


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“During this time of Thanksgiving, we need to rally to that motto,” added Burke, who said the resolution will also include urging city departments to work with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to provide shelter and sustenance for families uprooted by war and violence.

“The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is the largest refugee resettlement organization in the nation and has overseen placement of deserving families in Chicago.”

Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, chairman of the conference’s migration committee, stated Tuesday: “Instead of using this tragedy to scapegoat all refugees, I call upon our public officials to work together to end the Syrian conflict peacefully. . . . Until that goal is achieved, we must work with the world community to provide safe haven to vulnerable and deserving refugees who are simply attempting to survive. As a great nation, the United States must show leadership during this crisis.”

Burke, who is also a city historian, noted that in 1871, when Chicago was reeling from the tragedy of the great fire that practically leveled most of the city, citizens of France — which also gave the U.S. the Statue of Liberty — donated $62,783.80 to help victims of Chicago’s catastrophic inferno.

“That’s equivalent to $1,231,035.29  today,” he said.

Spoken like a Chief Financial Officer.

Rush to judgment . . .

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, who has drafted a letter to the Illinois delegation blasting Rauner’s decision to block Syrian refugees from entering the state, tells Sneed:

“We can’t abuse our nation’s generosity and must not close our borders to an immigrant group based on creed, color or religion!

“To turn the spigot off now would be to turn our backs not only to the past but just as important — to our future.

“Yes, we have to be super sensitive to the fact there are those who may try to harm us. But for all we know they are already here, American born and bred. But we have a system in place and we must depend on our system — as well as our citizens being vigilant — instead of blocking people fleeing war and violence.

“At the end of the day we are all strangers in a faraway land. We are all immigrants.”

Amen, Rev. Rush.

The Sheen saga . . .

Hmmm. Now that tiger’s blood actor Charlie Sheen has admitted to rumors he is HIV positive and was paying out millions of bucks to silence alleged sexual partners and those who knew . . . is anyone going to be charged with blackmail?

Or is blackmail now passé?

Just asking.

Sneed exclusive II . . .

Sneed is told Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is traveling to China later this week, is expected to announce China Eastern Airlines will begin direct service in March between Shanghai and Chicago with an estimated $175 million annual economic impact.

The Rahmster will be attending the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade along with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.

Sneedlings . . .

Today’s birthdays: Owen Wilson, 47; Linda Evans, 73, and Megyn Kelly, 45.

Follow Sneed on Twitter: @Sneedlings

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