Sen. Chris Murphy said today that Connecticut should be willing to accept refugees from Syria who are flooding into Europe in the wake of the civil war decimating the Middle Eastern nation.
In a conference call with reporters, Murphy declined to specify how many refugees Connecticut should accept. But he did say the U.S. overall should be ready to take in “north of 50,000.’’
“The U.S. must do more,’’ said Murphy, who over the weekend completed a five-day trip to the Middle East with Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich. “This situation is spiraling out of control.’’
The U.S bears responsibility for the war in Iraq, one of the main ingredients feeding the crisis in neighboring Syria, Murphy said. “We can’t be an honest broker in the region if we don’t have an answer to humanitarian disaster happening inside Syria.’’
Fifty-thousand represents a tiny percentage of the enormous numbers facing Europe: Four million Syrians are registered with the U.N. as refugees and Germany alone expects to take in 800,000. Great Britain has agreed to take in 20,000, France 24,000.
Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, described his visit to the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, which he called a “hell hole.’’ Children aimlessly wander the pathways between rudimentary tin shacks with intermittent electricity and open ditches for sewage, he said. The camp holds 80,000, a small fraction of the 629,000 said to be in Jordan. In addition to Syria, the refugee population includes those fleeing Afghanistan and other strife-torn nations.
To resettle any number of refugees in the U.S., Murphy said, the Department of Homeland Security must set up a process to make sure those coming in do not have affiliations with terrorist groups.
“I’m telling you, these fourth graders (at the Zaatari camp) are not terrorists and their moms are not terrorists,’’ he said. Nevertheless, screening has to be careful and thorough. “I can’t ask Connecticut to take in refugees unless I can show the vetting is air tight.’’