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Blumenthal Makes Pitch In Stamford For U.S. To Do More For Refugees

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal listens as Catalina Samper Horak speaks after a discussion on the Syrian refugee crisis while Ginny Fox, center, looks on. He spoke at Neighbors Link in Stamford on Monday morning.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal listens as Catalina Samper Horak speaks after a discussion on the Syrian refugee crisis while Ginny Fox, center, looks on. He spoke at Neighbors Link in Stamford on Monday morning. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern

STAMFORD, Conn. -- America has welcomed immigrants and refugees throughout history, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said in an appearance Monday in Stamford. But it can do more now.

“There are people and I don’t need to name names who are appealing to the lesser instinct,” he said in a swipe at immigration opponents. “We can be a great nation on immigration. We can also have some of the less worthwhile political leaders appeal to the fears. And the resistance and the fears are unfounded.”

Blumenthal made his comments to about 20 people gathered at Neighbors Link, a Stamford-based immigrant organization on Selleck Street. 

The U.S. government has pledged to increase the number of refugees taken in each year from 70,000 now to 100,000 by 2017. The Obama administration said it would take in at least 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year.

European countries have been overwhelmed as Syrian, Iraqi and Afghani refugees flood over their borders in recent weeks and months.

More money must be allocated to ensure that refugees and immigrants coming into the U.S. are properly screened, Blumenthal said.

“We have failed to provide sufficient resources to do the screening,” he said.

He also criticized Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States for not taking in any refugees, calling that decision "reprehensible."

America thrives when immigrants and refugees come to the country, Blumenthal said.

“We welcome diversity. We welcome newcomers. We welcome the talent and energy that they bring to us,” he said.

Claudia Connor, president of the International Institute of Connecticut, said the group has resettled 100 refugees this year in the greater Bridgeport area.

That number will increase to 115 in federal fiscal year 2016 that begins Oct. 1. 

She said the local organization concentrates on refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea and Colombia. 

The group will not be accepting Syrian refugees, she said, because they will be sent to areas across the country that can better offer services to Arabic-speaking refugees.

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