CHICAGO, DECEMBER 17, 2015 — Today, evangelical leaders from Illinois are sending a letter to Sens. Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin, calling on the congressmen, as well as Gov. Bruce Rauner, to show compassion and to welcome Syrian refugees into the state.
The 17 signatories remind the senators of the United States’ history as a safe haven for those fleeing from persecution, and the extensive security system in place for refugees to safeguard our nation from harm. It comes after Rauner said in November that the state would stop accepting refugees.
“Refugees are subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of travelers to the U.S. Our current system has been time-tested and effective,” the letter reads. “With more than 3 million refugees admitted to the U.S. since the 1970s, there has never been a terrorist attack perpetrated in U.S. by an individual admitted through the refugee resettlement program.
“We should take caution—and we are—but we also cannot let fear drive us to turn away, even temporarily, to those fleeing persecution. This does not reflect the moral courage and compassion characteristic of our great nation and great state of Illinois.”
“As a resident of Chicago and a member of the Irving Park community in Chicago, I, and the many congregations that we are a part of through City First, would like our Illinois legislators to know that we welcome immigrants and refugees in our area,” said signatory Rev. Mark D. Johnson, Pastor/Executive Director, Tapestry Fellowship/City First Foundation, Chicago. “We stand for the freedom and opportunity of millions in America and throughout the world. We ask that all of our legislators prayerfully enact policies that reflect compassion and justice.”
“As Christ followers, welcoming the stranger is our indisputable biblical call,” said Liz Dong, Midwest Regional Mobilizer for the Evangelical Immigration Table. “Many evangelical churches and leaders here in Illinois and around the country understand that a compassionate response to receiving refugees and immigrants does not have to come at the expense of security. America has led the way in being a refuge for the persecuted and the vulnerable. We hope we will not forsake that heritage.”