Connecticut advocates call for more than 10k Syrian refugees

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WASHINGTON — Sen. Chris Murphy and Connecticut resettlement advocates are calling on President Obama to admit more than 10,000 Syrian refuges.

“People are dying over there. People are starving. Little kids are being left for dead on the beaches of Europe. The United States can't just stand back in do nothing,” Murphy said on Friday. “So, we need to allocate some more money for this refugee program because it's the right thing to do.”

Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services, or IRIS, in New Haven has already placed five Syrian refugee families in the Elm City and plans to resettle more.

“In the year 1980, we brought in more than 200,000 Vietnamese refugees. That’s the level of our response,” Executive Director Chris George said.

Each year, IRIS resettles approximately 230 individual refugees. George said his organization could double that number if needed to help the Syrian refugee crisis.

“You're not going to have to worry about roadside bombs. You're kids aren't going to be kidnapped. You're not going to be tortured. But, it's going to be a struggle,” George said.

The White House says President Barack Obama has told advisers he wants to let 10,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S. in the coming budget year in response to a flight of nearly 4 million refugees from Syria. Germany, in comparison, has talked about taking 800,000 Syrian refugees.

The U.S. has accepted only about 1,500 Syrians since civil war broke out more than four years ago.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest says about $4 billion that the administration has provided to relief agencies and others is the most effective way for the U.S. to help meet the humanitarian crisis in Europe. Tens of thousands of people from the Middle East and other war-torn countries are seeking safe haven across Europe.

But Earnest says Obama has decided that admitting more Syrian refugees would help boost the U.S. response.

The 2016 budget year begins Oct. 1.

Gov. Malloy’s office released a statement on the announcement:

“The images we are seeing are tragic and the situation looks devastating. Our hearts go out to the people affected by this crisis. If the federal government and the President come up with a plan to take in these refugees, we would celebrate it and welcome them in our state, in order to do our part to help ameliorate the crisis – it’s part of Connecticut’s values. Senator Murphy, in particular, has been a leader on these issues, and has been vocal in pushing for action and a plan. We look forward to working closely with him, the rest of the delegation, and our federal partners.”