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Iowa Lawmakers Clash Over Immigration
DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI-TV) The debate on how to curb illegal immigration has made its way to Iowa.
Two state leaders are clashing over whether or not the state should accept undocumented immigrant children.
The children are crossing the southwestern U.S. border. Some seek shelter in Iowa.
I am very empathetic for these teenagers and kids, but theyve come here illegally, said Gov. Terry Branstad.
Branstad said the state should not be seen as a safe haven for children who enter the United States illegally.
U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, however, said illegal or not, unaccompanied children deserve to be housed and kept safe.
The first thing we need to do is treat these kids like refugees, because thats what they are, Harkins said.
More than 50,000 children have crossed into the United States since October. Many left escalating gang violence and extreme poverty.
The federal government indicates at least 139 have arrived in Iowa during 2014.
Theyre not sneaking across, Harkin said. Theyre just walking across the border and theyre looking for people with uniforms. These are refugees. Theyre not the kind that have been sneaking in.
Branstad sent a letter to President Barack Obama this week, calling for more transparency about immigrant children sent to Iowa after being detained.
It would be wrong for us to send a signal that if you come here illegally, were going to just disperse you throughout the country, and you dont have to go home, Branstad said.
Harkin said he would like to see a Marshall Plan set up for Central America, similar to one installed for Europe following World War II.