FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal is urging the State Department and Department of Homeland Security to address unnecessary delays and costly logistical hurdles that have led to life-threatening delays in processing as refugees stream into Europe.
Developed in consultation with Connecticut and national advocates, Blumenthal’s four-point plan urges specific reforms that would eliminate wasteful and duplicative processes, driving down costs and immediately expediting processing without compromising security, he said in a statement.
Blumenthal’s plan specifically calls for:
- Expansion of the “Priority 3” program that allows refugees with relatives in the United States to apply directly to the U.S. government for screening and resettlement.
- Improved coordination to end the repeat security checks that expire while refugees are still being processed.
- Use of videoconferencing for security screenings to greatly reduce the need for expensive and logistically-difficult travel.
- Notification of families when some, but not all family members have been cleared.
“While I welcome the administration’s commitment to accept additional refugees from Syrian and elsewhere next fiscal year, simply increasing that cap will be insufficient if we fail to expand capacity to screen and effectively resettle refugees within our borders," Blumenthal said.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, meanwhile, is leading a group of 26 senators in calling on U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) to immediately consider emergency funding to provide humanitarian relief to Syrian refugees and to increase the capacity for refugee admissions to the United States.
In a letter to the committee leadership, the senators emphasized that organizations aiding Syrian refugees are on the verge of running out of money, and that if the United States and our partners fail to fill funding gaps, refugee families will lose access to basic services such as food and shelter.
“Organizations aiding Syrian refugees are working around the clock to provide food, shelter, medical care and education to refugee families, but these basic services are at dire risk unless the United States and our partners fill the funding gaps," the letter said.
"Second, we must support funding to significantly increase the number of refugees screened and admitted into the United States. We welcomed approximately 200,000 refugees during the Balkan Wars, 700,000 refugees from Cuba, and more than 700,000 refugees from Vietnam.
"Compared with these historic numbers, we can do better than 10,000 slots for Syrian families. We cannot simply sit on the sidelines as this humanitarian disaster continues to unfold,” the senators wrote.
Blumenthal is also part of the group.
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