Obama's Call to Accept 10,000 Syrian Refugees Is Too Little, Says Sen. Murphy, Advocates

"Let's start processing [the refugees] and bringing them here. Connecticut will play its part." Chris George

By:  Tucker Ives

Senator Chris Murphy is joining Connecticut advocates to call for a big increase in the number of Syrian refugees resettled in the United States.

Speaking on MSNBC last week, Murphy said accepting 10,000 refugees as President Obama has proposed is not enough. "This just isn't living up to historic standards," said Murphy, citing approximately 370,000 people brought to the U.S. during the Vietnamese and Balkan conflicts.

Murphy said if that number was more like 65,000, it could give hope to people in refugee camps which "would be a game-changer in and of itself inside these camps."

Murphy met with a Connecticut-based organization on Monday that has been resettling refugees in the New Haven region for more than three decades. Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) has resettled four Syrian families since late July and executive director Chris George said they are expecting a fifth family soon.

Speaking on WNPR's The Colin McEnroe Show before Murphy's visit, George said organizations like his are ready to help many more families.

"We're all well-established, connected, supported, agile non-profit organizations," George said. "Let's start processing them and bringing them here. Connecticut will play its part." Connecticut currently takes in approximately 550 refugees of various nationalities each year. "We're ready to see that doubled," said George.

IRIS wants the United States to accept 200,000 refugees from around the world, an increase from the current limit 70,000. George called the current U.S. response to the crisis "small" and "timid."

The United Nations says there are more than four million registered refugees fleeing from Syria. Resettlement for refugees is "a last resort" said George.

Murphy is calling for emergency funding to support 65,000 refugees resettling in the United States as part of the federal budget. Congress faces another government shutdown if a budget isn't passed by the September 30 deadline.

Ellen Billard, co-founder and executive director of Road to Mafraq, recently returned from a refugee camp in Jordan. "People are feeling more and more hopeless and they'd love to return if that was a possibility," she said. But after more than four years of war, there isn't much for them to return to.