Muslims, veterans and pastors were among the roughly 30 people who rallied in support of Syrian refugees in downtown Greenville Saturday.
Holding a sign that said, "There are no illegal human beings," Clemson student Will McCorkle said he organized the rally at One City Plaza in response to an anti-immigrant rhetoric that goes against American values.
"It really defies who we are as a people," McCorkle said. "There's a lot of goodwill in this state."
The graduate student referred to a recent Winthrop University poll in which 58 percent of people in South Carolina favored giving undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship.
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"That’s not the message that you hear. You hear the message from Donald Trump," McCorkle said.
The Republican presidential candidate earlier this month had proposed a ban on Muslim immigration that would apply to tourists, refugees and immigrants.
Another refugee supporter, Ali Alkelani, said he believes a lot of the xenophobia is the result of "presidential banter trying to gain votes."
Alkelani said he and several members of the Islamic Society of Greenville came to Saturday's rally after hearing about it on social media.
Alkelani, who is Syrian, said refugees are fleeing the country to escape fighting at home and that many are struggling to survive.
There are terrorists, Alkelani said, but "we need to call them by their names. We cannot just say that any immigrant is a terrorist.
"Everyone here in this country was an immigrant at one point. We all came here to America because this is the land of the free."
Still others at the rally were part of Veterans for Peace or the Upstate Peace Network. Some came from local Unitarian and Methodist churches or just happened to walk by.
Several of the supporters had signs alluding to Christian beliefs. One said: "I was a stranger, and you welcomed me."
"Remember that it’s the Christmas season and that Jesus was a refugee," McCorkle said.