Capitol Rally for Syrian Refugees

Nov 24, 2015

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.

Iowans rally at state capitol in support of Syrian refugee settlement in their state.
Credit Sarah Boden / Iowa Public Radio

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."

Brenda Schumann holds a sign with the words from the poem mounted on the inside of the Statue of Liberty. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...Send these, the homeless, tempest-tosse dto me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Credit Sarah Boden / Iowa Public Radio

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.