Iowans Voice Fear, Support Of Syrian Refugees No Syrian refugees have arrived in Iowa yet, but people are concerned — some over a Paris-style attack coming to the U.S., and others over proposals they've heard that could single out Muslims.

Iowans Voice Fear, Support Of Syrian Refugees

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The debate over resettling refugees in the United States has been fierce this week. Presidential candidates weighed in. Most on the Republican side have called for keeping out migrants who are fleeing terror in Syria or other countries where ISIS operates. NPR's Sarah McCammon is in Iowa, where she asked voters for their thoughts.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: At Gateway Market on the edge of downtown Des Moines, Ryan Squier and Kat Cummings were sitting down over plates of eggs this morning. They're troubled by what they're hearing from presidential candidates like Donald Trump, who told a reporter he wouldn't rule out creating a database to track Muslims in the United States.

RYAN SQUIER: Are we going back to World War II and the Holocaust? Labeling Jews, stars, armbands?

MCCAMMON: Trump has since tried to walk back the database idea, claiming a reporter raised the question, not him. Squier and Cummings are both younger - in their 20s and 30s - and work in the financial industry. Cummings says it would be unfair to single-out Muslims.

KAT CUMMINGS: I think that's ridiculous. We don't have that for any other religion. I mean, we could start doing that for everyone, and who's to say when that stops?

MCCAMMON: At a table just a few steps away, Thomas Maurer was finishing an omelet with a side of potatoes.

THOMAS MAURER: It was delicious. I doused it in Tabasco, and that is my favorite morning treat.

MCCAMMON: Maurer is 44 it works in sales. He says tracking Muslims makes sense.

MAURER: We're not talking about eliminating anybody. We're not talking about a cleansing. We're not creating a scapegoat. Alls we're doing is saying what has happened in the past 25 years has been perpetrated 100 percent of the time against Americans and other European entities by the populations coming from Muslim-dense countries.

MCCAMMON: Maurer calls the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh, a one-off. He says bringing more refugees into the U.S. from heavily Muslim countries is a bad idea.

MAURER: They need to stay in Syria. They're destroying Europe in their infiltration with their religion ideology.

MCCAMMON: Back at the first table, Kat Cummings says the refugees fleeing war and terrorism shouldn't be punished for their faith.

CUMMINGS: I think this mindset that we think we have the right to just deny a person, you know, a safe place based on their religion and the fact that they have some crazy people in their religion is ridiculous.

MCCAMMON: Ryan Squier says careful vetting is important, but he calls helping refugees the humane thing to do. He says too many politicians are playing on fear to get attention.

SQUIER: But that's not what we should be doing. We should be promoting how to negotiate, come to terms, what's best for the greater good and maybe not what's best for us as individuals.

MCCAMMON: Over at Maurer's table, his co-worker, 43-year-old Kelly Watson, has mixed feelings. He likes what he's hearing from Republicans who've taken a hard line on terrorism, but...

KELLY WATSON: I don't think that there should be any sort of religious ID. That doesn't sound right.

MCCAMMON: Watson sees Syrian refugees as the victims of ISIS.

WATSON: I do feel very bad for these refugees in Syria. I know they're caught in a terrible conflict with ISIS. I believe that the rest of the Middle East should take them in.

MCCAMMON: He's concerned about more Paris-style attacks and thinks the U.S. should tighten up its screening procedures. So far, this is a hypothetical debate for Iowans, since no Syrian refugees have arrived here yet. Sarah McCammon, NPR News, Des Moines.

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