Blumenthal Urges Dept. Of Homeland Security To Adopt His Refugee Plan

Oct 6, 2015

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) speaks about his plan to streamline the process for allowing refugees into the country at Hartford's Franciscan Center for Urban Ministry.
Credit Cassandra Basler

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut is urging the Department of Homeland Security to adopt his plan that would speed up the process for Syrian refugees to enter the U.S.

People leaving Syria have to get a referral from the United Nations before they can apply to enter the U.S. Blumenthal said that part of his plan would allow refugees with family in the U.S to apply without the U.N. referral. He said his plan could shorten the application process from two years to several months.

“Permit people to apply directly to this country, without going through the U.N. high commission on refugees, if they have relatives here already,” he said.

Blumenthal said other ways to speed up the process would be ending repeat security checks and interviewing refugees over video conferences, instead of in person.

Mongi Dhaouadi, executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations in Connecticut, said any plan that can get Syrians out of refugee camps more quickly will help.

“We all agree that the system as it is now is too slow, inefficient, people are suffering as we speak in camps that are overflowing with refugees, and the solution needs to happen and needs to happen quickly,” he said.

Dhaouadi says communities in the state are ready to help settle refugees. He says out of 1,500 Syrian refugees that have come to the U.S. since the start of the Syrian civil war, ten families have settled in Connecticut.

Syrian-American Gufran Alibebididi of Berlin, Conn. immigrated to Connecticut from Syria in 2000. She said she recently visited refugee camps in Turkey and met families that are trying to get into the U.S., and she’s ready to help refugees find their place in the U.S.

“Being out of Syria is not that much safe, because you still have nothing," she said. "Because when you go to a country with nothing, no job, no nothing, you know, it’s really hard.”

Alibebididi says her own relatives have left Syria for Germany and Sweden because it was easier to get in.

The U.S. will admit 10,000 Syrian refugees next year. That’s out of 85,000 refugees the country will take in from around the world. Four million Syrians have been displaced in the past four years.