Immigrant advocates cheer news that Malloy would sue government if it withheld funds

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WOODBRIDGE -- Gov. Dan Malloy is trying to reassure immigrant groups and refugees that Connecticut stands with them.

"We need to stand up for individuals, we need to protect them, we need to do our part as a nation,” said Malloy during a meeting at the Jewish Community Center in Woodbridge on Tuesday.

Malloy made clear he would not be on board with the President-elect Donald Trump’s call to deport undocumented immigrants and also denounced any kind of national registry that would track people of a certain religion. Malloy also called for a show of American values, as well as for the U.S. to follow through on international treaties.

Several Syrian refugees who've resettled in Connecticut stood up at the meeting and spoke of their time in the state.

"I thank you!" Abir told the crowd.

Wafaa, another Syrian refugee who resettled in the Danbury area, told FOX 61 several of his relatives remain in war-torn Syria. It took her and family members several years to apply and receive refugee status. Now, Wafaa and her family have been in Connecticut for eight months and are in the process of learning the culture and language, with help from community groups.

"Wafaa has practiced just on her own and has really worked very hard to learn English,” said Karen Foster, with Danbury Area Refugee Assistance, “so that not only can she get a job, she can go to the grocery store and do things on her own."

Governor Malloy was also asked about sanctuary cities, and Trump’s threats to block federal funding from communities that refuse to work with immigration agents.

Malloy believes Trump would have no legal footing to do so.

"There is no such thing as 'sanctuary cities,' it's a political term that was made up,” said Malloy.

And if the incoming administration tried to block funding?

"We'd sue them,” said Malloy. “We'd sue them because they would be violating the law."

It was a sentiment that echoed what New Haven Mayor Toni Harp said last week. New Haven is a so-called "sanctuary city," the only "official" one in Connecticut.

Chris George with Integrated Refugee and Immigration Services-- known as IRIS-- was also at the meeting and invited Trump to come to Connecticut and meet with Syrian refugees.

“Have a cup of coffee and meet refugees face to face, hear their stories, understand why they had to flee their home countries, why they’ve come to this great country,” said George.

FOX 61 did reach out to the Trump campaign and is awaiting a response.