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Fears raised over resettling Syrians refugees in St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – The question of whether it is safe to allow Syrian refugees to resettle in the United States is being raised again following the Paris attacks by ISIS, in which one of the attackers is said to have gotten into France by pretending to be a Syrian refugee.

"We do not close our hearts to these victims.,' said President Obama at a Monday morning news conference in Turkey.

But in St. Louis, Faizan Syed, executive director of the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, warns stopping the flow actually benefits ISIS.

'Their main propaganda is to encourage people from across the world to come and life in their Caliphate. Every single person that leaves that state with their family to pursue a life in a non-Muslim country is a direct attack and assault on their ideology,' Syed said.

But at least eight governor's including Bruce Rauner of Illinois, are calling for a temporary stop to Syrian immigration. Part of his statement reads: "... the news surrounding the Paris terror attacks reminds us of the all-too-real security threats facing America. We must find a way to balance our tradition as a state welcoming of refugees while ensuring the safety and security of our citizens,' Rauner said in a written statement.

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon also issued a statement which reads, in part: "The screening process for refugees is the responsibility of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and I call on our federal partners to implement the strongest possible safeguards to protect our state and nation."

Meanwhile, the President and CEO of the International Institute of St. Louis is hoping people do not let their fears overcome their humanity.

'They are all frantic, they are all desperate to escape,' said Crosslin, who emphasized that unlike the Syrian refugees in Europe, any admitted to the United States go through 18-24 months of extensive background checks.

'If they can't clear any one of those 13 hurdles they don`t become part of the group that is admitted to the United States,' she said.

Crosslin also believes denying refugees resettlement could create more ISIS sympathizers among those turned away.

'Part of radicalism is about lack of hope and when people feel like they have nothing left to lose, that is when they are open to some of the horror we have seen so far,' she said.

Crosslin says the International Institute had been expecting to take in about 100 Syrian refugees by next September.

Twenty-nine are already in St. Louis.