Statehouse and Politics
2:22 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Branstad Defends Stance on Immigrant Children

Governor Terry Branstad is defending his reluctance to grant asylum to unaccompanied children fleeing extreme violence in Central America.

"It would be wrong for us to send a signal that if you come here illegally, we're just gonna disperse you throughout the country and you don't have to go home."

Social justice advocate Connie Ryan Terrell of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa says many in Iowa’s faith community are disappointed with Branstad's decision, since the state has a history of welcoming immigrants.

"If you look back to the 1970s, Gov. Ray was really the lead governor in our nation that worked to provide safe refuge for people coming from southeast Asian and really was the instigator across the nation to get other governors to do likewise."

Branstad says main the difference between the Southeast Asian immigrants of the 1970s and children from countries like Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, is the former entered the country legally.

"Even though we're very compassionate people, we also believe things need to be done legally. And if we make it such that we don't have borders anymore, and anyone can come here, we can't...sustain our country.  It's just something that's not possible for us to do."

Bradstad says several governors don't want the children housed in their states, including the Democratic governors of Colorado and Maryland.

The U.S. government estimates up to 90,000 children will enter the U.S. this year.