Former Iowa Governor Robert Ray opened a U-S State Department town meeting on refugees and immigration in Des Moines today. Ray looked back 25 years when he made the decision to accept thousands refugees from Cambodia and Vietnam into the state. Ray says it didn’t take long to make the decision, as they were “people who were fighting with us trying to support the cause of freedom.”Other states put the refugees into camps and pushed them to learn English. Ray led Iowa in a different direction, giving them jobs and letting them learn English in the school system.Ray says the state drew critcism because the refugees were not put on welfare. But, he says the refugees didn’t need welfare. As Iowa again struggles with an influx of refugees, Ray says taking them in 25 years ago proved to be the right thing. He says they became very good citizens that contributed enormously to our culture and our society.The conference today is designed to discuss how the new refugees and immigrants will impact Iowa’s workforce.
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