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Dubuque Group Asks Iowans to Welcome Refugee Children

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DUBUQUE, Iowa — 122 children who entered the United States illegally were sent to Iowa during the first half of the year. A spokesperson with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says the kids were placed with sponsors.

Governor Branstad has been very outspoken against bringing illegal children to Iowa. On Tuesday he was never notified the kids were brought here. He said the children should be sent back home.

But some immigration reform activists don’t agree with the governor.

Sr. Mary McCauley says she witnessed displays of human indecency during the 2008 immigration raid in Postville.

McCauley said, “It’s just unbelievable that people say ‘you’re not welcome, go back. Go back and you will be killed.’ What type of person is that? “

That’s why McCauley and members of Crossing Borders-Dubuque say Iowa needs to welcome refugee children in our communities.

“I’d hope that we would really welcome the stranger,” said McCauley. “That we would welcome these young people who can become a gift to us.”

The group supports President Obama’s request to give $3.7 billion to the Office of Refugee Settlement.

In downtown Dubuque, volunteers at the Presentation Light Center help immigrants learn to speak English and prepare for their citizenship exam.

Executive Director Sr. Corine Murray said, “Everybody who has studied for the citizenship test here with us, went on to Des Moines and passed.”

The volunteers believe welcoming refugees to Iowa it’s both humane and American.

“Let’s give those kids who are running from violence a day in court. And let’s help them in ways that we can. We are a nation of immigrants and sometimes we have short memories,” said Murray.

l Comments: (563) 583-9999; katie.wiedemann@kcrg.com