About 50 people rallied outside the State Capitol Tuesday afternoon, in response to Gov. Terry Branstad’s order blocking Syrian refugees from settling in Iowa.
"Mr. Branstad I ask you to find it in your heart, to find the courage, and to stop being afraid of people that are different from you," said Samantha Thomas, the one of the rally's organizers and executive director of Global Arts Therapy, which does work with youth and refugees.
Some attendees said they were more worried about backlash against Syrian refugees who may eventually settle in Iowa, than they were about newcomers being potential terrorists. Many who spoke also characterized Bradstad's recent statements against refugee settlement in Iowa as "fear-mongering" or words of "hatred."
"I think we just need to not be so fearful because these are human beings in need," says Brenda Shumann of Des Moines. "I hear 'well we've got homeless, we've got veterans' and we do, but it's not one or the other. Most of the people that care about people, care about our homeless as well as refugees. We're a right enough country that we can help both."
On Monday group of Iowa clergy submitted a letter to Branstad, condemning what they call “discrimination” against Syrian refugees “on the basis of religion.” The governor said he would be “more willing” to accept refugees, if a bill before Congress to tighten the screening process of refugees becomes law.