Debate Over Undocumented Children Divides State Leaders

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa’s leaders have varied positions about whether the state should bring in some of the tens of thousands of undocumented children waiting to find out if they can stay in the United States.

Here’s what we found from four candidates for office:

David Young, Third District Republican Congressional candidate, Van Meter–“We do have our challenges. But people are still risking life and limb to get to America. But these children need to be reunited with their families and we need to help them get home.”

Young wants the U.S. to take care of the children’s health needs but believes all should likely get sent back home to be with their families. He doesn’t rule out they could achieve legal refugee status and come to Iowa, but doesn’t see it as likely.

Staci Appel, Third District Democratic Congressional candidate, Ackworth–“We need to solve the problem at the border. Find out who they are, how they got here and what their status is.”

Appel believes the children should remain where they are until authorities figure out their situation. She didn’t say whether they could eventually come to Iowa.

Governor Terry Branstad, Republican seeking re-election–“I’m very empathetic for these teenagers and kids. But they’ve come here illegally. And it would be wrong for us to send a signal, if you come here illegally, we’re going to just disperse you through the country and you don’t have to come home.”

Branstad said don’t bring children to Iowa now or later. He wants to deport them.

Jack Hatch, Democratic candidate for governor, Des Moines–“The moral sentiment of Iowans is to let them in. And to allow us through a coalition of how we could best solve that problem for Iowans’ sentiments of moral judgement.”

Hatch wants a coalition of faith-based and social welfare state agencies to assess the children’s future and then leave it up to this group to decide what happens and whether the children come to Iowa.

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