No refugees, Santorum says

Rick+Santorum+stands+behind+the+bar+of+Back+Pocket+Brewery+on+Nov.+18%2C+2015.+Santorum+visited+the+brewery+in+hopes+of+drumming+up+support+for+his+presidential+campaign.+%28The+Daily+Iowan%2FSergio+Flores%29

Rick Santorum stands behind the bar of Back Pocket Brewery on Nov. 18, 2015. Santorum visited the brewery in hopes of drumming up support for his presidential campaign. (The Daily Iowan/Sergio Flores)

Rick Santorum is strongly against Syrian refugees, but Iowa audience is not.

By Aaron Walker

[email protected]

Some Iowans disagreed with GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum’s stance to not accept Syrian refugees into the U.S. when he spoke in Coralville Wednesday.

“We should not be accepting any refugees from Syria into the United States,” Santorum said to a small crowd at Backpocket Brewery, located in the Iowa River Landing. “The reason I take that position is not because I’m not a humanitarian, that I don’t care about refugees, or that I’m not concerned with the plight of these refugees.”

President Obama plans to bring 10,000 Syrian refugees during this fiscal year. House Republicans have proposed legislation restricting Syrian asylum, but Obama has said he would veto any such legislation.

“If we take refugees from Syria in that area, what we are doing is helping ISIS accomplish what they want to accomplish,” Santorum said.

ISIS wants to evict moderate Muslims and families from the region and will insert terrorists into refugee populations, Santorum said.

Instead of bringing refugees into the U.S., Santorum believes the U.S. should encourage countries in the region to accept refugees, support Kurdish forces, and contribute funding to arming anti-Shiite forces.

“Working with Iran, Assad, and the Iraqi government is not the way to drive ISIS out of Iraq,” Santorum said. “We have to be working with Kurds we have to be working with Sunnis who are willing to fight ISIS.”

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, along with 30 other governors, said he would block Syrian refugees from entering Iowa. But in recent days, city officials in towns such as North Liberty and Swisher have welcomed asylum seekers.

And many Iowans in attendance, including the restaurant’s taproom manager Steve Fugate, said the U.S. should accept refugees.

“The refugees are not terrorists,” he said. “While most certainly ISIS may be working to get into that group of people, [the refugees] are victims of not only terrorism, but of our bombing.”

Fugate is not a Republican, but it appears most members of the GOP in Iowa have not been convinced to support Santorum, despite his slim victory in the 2012 caucuses.

Only 0 percent of likely GOP caucus-goers said Santorum was their favorite candidate, according to a CNN/ORC poll with a 4 percentage-point margin of error taken between Oct. 29 and Nov. 4.

He has an average support of 0.8 percent of GOP caucus-goers in Iowa, according to Real Clear Politics.

Dave Perry and Mike Conroy attended the event together. Both said they were Republicans but have not chosen candidates. They believe the U.S. should bring in refugees.

“We need to check, verify, but we also need to realize what’s going on,” Perry said. “People are in tough situations and could benefit from a series of nations willing to welcome them.”

Most audience members said monitoring is necessary, but agreed the U.S. has a responsibility to accept some refugees.

But 53 percent of Americans oppose relocating Syrians to the U.S., according to a Bloomberg Politics poll with a 3.9 percent error margin conducted between Nov. 16 and Nov. 17.

Still, many of those in attendance appeared open to the idea.

“I’m conservative by nature so I agree with some of [Santorum’s] comments but I also know this country is made up of multinationals and as long as there is a process to incorporate quality checks for people coming in, I don’t have a problem with it,” Conroy said.

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