OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) - Monday night at Omaha’s Gifford Park refugee support and resettlement groups held a candlelight vigil to show solidarity with the thousands of refugees fleeing wars in the Middle East.
More than one hundred people gathered just hours after Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts again issued a statement reiterating his request that these groups do not take steps to bring Syrian refugees to the state until the federal government can ensure terrorists aren’t exploiting the humanitarian crisis to sneak into the country.
But some at the vigil said this sentiment was giving into fear and groups wouldn’t turn away refugees from Syria.
“We're not going to hold off on the process, we're going to look into the process and start that process now and move forward,” said Father Mike Eckley, from St. Pius X Catholic Church, a member institution of Omaha Together One Community, which helped organize the vigil. Fr. Eckley said the soonest any Syrian refugees could arrive in Omaha is nine months to a year from now.
As people prayed outside during the vigil, Gov. Ricketts, and other prominent Nebraska republicans attended an event with presidential candidate Marco Rubio who briefly covered national security and foreign policy during a roughly 40 minute speech at the Embassy Suites Hotel in La Vista.
On foxnews Sunday the Florida senator said the United States should have a commonsense approach to Syrian refugees.
“A fix year old orphan, a 90 year old widow, a well-known Chaldean priest. These are obviously common sense applications and you can clearly vet them just by common sense. But what about someone who doesn't fit that profile? There is no reliable database we can rely on,” Rubio said.
Rubio and Ricketts said it should be the federal government’s priority to protect America.
"My request is not about keeping Syrian refugees out of Nebraska, but rather ensuring that we keep potential terrorists out of our state and our country," Ricketts wrote in his letter released Monday.
But refugee support groups say the country can't turn its back on the growing humanitarian crisis.
“And no let fear and misunderstanding get in the way of continuing to welcome the stranger,” said Fr. Eckley.