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PORTLAND Portland Mayor Charlie Hales personally backed Gov. Kitzhaber s position on welcoming refugee children to the state Wednesday.

Last week, Oregon took in 50 immigrant kids who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, supporting them as they await legal proceedings.

Kitzhaber said he welcomed the children with open arms. Senator Jeff Merkley also supported the governor's position.

On Wednesday, Hales weighed in.

Immigration is a federal issue. The City of Portland has no official position on this topic, he said. But I m not just a mayor. I m a father. And speaking as a father, I stand with Gov. John Kitzhaber and welcome these refugee children to Oregon.

Hales said that turning away the kids wouldn t align with the spirit of Portland or Oregon.

Oregon has been a welcoming home to unaccompanied minors and refugee children, and will continue to be so while we wait on Congress to adopt more responsible immigration policies, Hales said.

More than 200 kids have been taken to Washington state. California has seen over 3,000.

The issue has sparked Portland rallies from both sides of the debate.

More: Ore. takes in 50 kids from US-Mexico border

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