Malloy Spokesman: Welcoming Syrian Refugees In Line With 'Connecticut's Values'

By:  Daniela Altimari
Hartford Courant

If the federal government allows a significant increase in refugees from Syria, Connecticut should step up and do its part, said a spokesman for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

"The images we are seeing are tragic and the situation looks devastating. Our hearts go out to the people affected by this crisis,'' said Devon Puglia, speaking on behalf of the Democratic governor.

On Thursday, the White House announced it would accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next fiscal year, a sharp uptick in the number who have been admitted to the U.S. since the current crisis began.

Puglia said the Malloy administration would "celebrate" the chance to help. "If the federal government and the President come up with a plan to take in these refugees, we would...welcome them in our state, in order to do our part to help ameliorate the crisis - it's part of Connecticut's values,'' Puglia said.

More than 4 million Syrians have fled their war-ravaged homeland, with many seeking refuge in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Germany and Hungary. About 1,500 Syrians uprooted by the crisis have been admitted to the U.S., the majority since January.

Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut is among those demanding that the U.S. do more. Murphy said the U.S. ought to accept at least 50,000 refugees.

"The United States has always been a refuge for those fleeing persecution, war, and misery, and we cannot continue to sit on the sidelines of a humanitarian crisis on such a massive scale,'' the Democratic senator said Thursday.

“Congress must take urgent action to address this problem. If we are prepared to sink $500-600 million per year into the failed Syria train-and-equip program, which has produced not a single capable fighter inside the civil war, the United States should spend at least as much to fill desperately needed funding gaps for refugee humanitarian aid and resettlement,'' Murphy added.

Murphy recently returned from a trip to the Middle East, where he toured a refugee camp in Jordan and saw the heartache firsthand.

He is calling on Congress to pass an emergency supplemental funding bill of at least $500 million. Part of the money could be used to increase funding to the World Food Program and the other international organizations supporting Syrian refugees, he said. "The World Food Program has run out of money, again, to feed the millions of refugees who live outside the camps. The U.S. can't let this happen."

The U.S. should provide funding to significantly increase the number of Syrian refugees screened and admitted into the United States, Murphy said. "The State Department can't screen refugees on their current budget without stealing from other accounts that address the crisis or lend in the fight against ISIL,'' he said.

"The United States has a long tradition of providing safe haven to refugees fleeing from tyranny, violence and persecution,'' Murphy said. "Yet we have only offered refuge to 1,500 Syrians. Additional funding is needed to perform the rigorous security screening necessary to admit individuals into the United States, and we should continue to prioritize vulnerable populations such as women and children and victims of torture."

Puglia praised Murphy's advocacy on the issue. "Sen. Murphy...has been a leader on these issues, and has been vocal in pushing for action and a plan,'' Puglia said. "We look forward to working closely with him, the rest of the delegation, and our federal partners."