IRIS To Trump: Come Meet Our Refugees

Markeshia Ricks Photos New Haven’s refugee-resettler in chief invited President-Elect Donald Trump Tuesday to come to town meet the Syrian families who have made a new life in Connecticut.

Chris George (pictured at left), executive director of Integrated Refugee & Immigration Services (IRIS), issued the invitation at a pre-Thanksgiving event held at the Jewish Community Center on Amity Road to celebrate the state’s role in resettling refugees even in the face of national calls to shut down the resettlement program for Syrian refugees.

He was joined at the event by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and some of the refugees whom IRIS has helped resettle here.

George said that he believes that Connecticut has said yes to refugee resettlement because people here understand the issue. He said that in his first decade of resettlement work he had two community groups approach IRIS about welcoming a refugee family; over the past 12 months 50 groups have stepped forward to help resettle families in their neighborhoods. Those groups include the Danbury Area Refugee Assistance and five greater New Haven synagogues: Congregation Beth El-Keser Israel, Congregation B’nai Jacob, Congregation Mishkan Israel, Congregation Or Shalom, and Temple Emmanuel, which suport the work of the Jewish Community Alliance for Refugee Resettlement. IRIS resettled 477 refugees, including 279 fleeing the brutal civil war in Syria, in Connecticut during the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30.

Trump ran for office as an opponent of immigration and accepting refugees from Muslim nations. His vice-president-elect, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, refused entry to his state of Syrian refugees whom Malloy then invited to New Haven, where IRIS helped them resettle.

“Why is Connecticut doing this more than other states? What’s so special about this state,” George said he is often asked. “You are probably more informed and there is a tradition of welcoming refugees, and you have an opportunity with this community co-sponsorship program, to do it. We believe that education is key. People who know about refugees, if they even know refugees, they love them. If they know them they will support resettlement. It’s hard to believe that people recently have been talking about ending the refugee program—suspending the refugee program from Syria. Our response is come meet them.”

That goes for President-Elect Donald Trump. George said he is inviting president-elect Donald Trump to come to the IRIS office to sit down for coffee with refugees. He said he invites Trump to meet refugees face to face and listen to their stories.

“Understand why they had to flee their own countries; why they have come to this place for opportunities for freedom, safety and the future of their children,” he said. “All the things that make this country great.”

Wafaa Speaks

One of Connecticut’s Syrian refugees, Wafaa, a 45-year-old Syrian refugee, could not speak English three months ago. As of Tuesday, she can say that she’s shared the stage with Gov. Malloy — and spoke to the public in her new language.

Wafaa (her last name is not given to protect her identity) joined Malloy at Tuesday’s celebration.

The mother of four told a packed auditorium that she and her family have settled into their new home in Danbury just fine. She has a job as a cafeteria worker and is working on her English every day.

“We’re very happy at everything,” she said.

Malloy said that there is much that the state of Connecticut and its residents, including those who have settled here from war torn countries, have to be thankful for this upcoming holiday season. One reason to be thankful: The willingness to step up to help others.

“Our state, and much of our nation, steps forward and does do the right thing even when political rhetoric ... otherwise splits us apart,” he said. “We stand up and we do the right thing.”

Malloy pointed out that the United States had recently reached its target of resettling 10,000 refugees from Syria. He also pointed out that Canada, which has a smaller population, in the same time period has resettled 30,000. But despite a divisive presidential election fueled in part by talk of cracking down on immigration and halting resettlement from countries like Syria, Malloy said he doesn’t believe that the United States would turn its back on the treaties it has signed, or that federal policy around resettlement would drastically change.

“We need to do our part as a nation,” he said. “To be here amongst people who ban together make life better for those in difficulty is really quite an honor. It is true to our constitution as a written document as to who we are, what we believe and how we act.”

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posted by: THREEFIFTHS on November 22, 2016  8:02pm

“Our state, and much of our nation, steps forward and does do the right thing even when political rhetoric ... otherwise splits us apart,” he said. “We stand up and we do the right thing.”

Political Rhetoric.Dan Malloy should look in the mirror and he would see Political Rhetoric in himself.In fact ask the state workers who was laid off and sold out by Slick Dan Malloy and Sell-out Judas Goat Politicians who sign his state budget.Dan Malloy will be a resettling refugee in 2018 when the people will vote him out of office.

Mark 8:36 KJV: For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
No shame hast the Judas Goat!!

posted by: Bradley on November 23, 2016  12:02pm

3/5ths, the transitional money the refugees receive, as well as IRIS operational support, comes from the federal rather than state government.

People may also want to look into IRIS’ cultural companions program, in which individuals can help acculturate refugee families.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on November 23, 2016  5:24pm

posted by: Bradley on November 23, 2016 11:02am

3/5ths, the transitional money the refugees receive, as well as IRIS operational support, comes from the federal rather than state government.

People may also want to look into IRIS’ cultural companions program, in which individuals can help acculturate refugee families.

I understand that.But I was talking about the Political Rhetoric of Dan Malloy.You and I know that Dan Malloy is done.And He also knows this.

posted by: NHInsider on November 25, 2016  12:59am

The only people who should be receiving support are refugee families.  However I know from experience that they assist those who are here illegally.  It is time for ICE to be able to deport those who are here illegally without political and community outrage. Unless your family is 100% Native American, then your ancestors applied for citizenship, jumped through multiple ‘hoops’, had to move to other countries,leave all of their possessions behind-to enter LEGALLY.  Why should anyone be exempt from the legal process???

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on November 25, 2016  11:50am

posted by: NHInsider on November 24, 2016 11:59pm

Unless your family is 100% Native American, then your ancestors applied for citizenship, jumped through multiple ‘hoops’, had to move to other countries,leave all of their possessions behind-to enter LEGALLY.  Why should anyone be exempt from the legal process???

What is a 100% Native American.

posted by: Arod on November 28, 2016  1:17pm

This is a serious matter not only for us immigrants who are here legally,my parents came here in the fiftys they raised thirteen of us here, were we thrieved and all thirteen are colledge graduates we love america and at least five of us served in the military, we were brought up in a christian fashion and assimulated the culture to a point were our children dont speak spanish or like rice and beans. My question is are they willing to do the same we know the problems in austrailia and italy and spain and other nation that have allowed this type of immigation.The problem is they dont assimilate into the culture they move into they implement thier culture upon others they obey sharia law over our constitution and within time do it with violence.Please dont get me wrong as a christian I truly believe in helping our nieghbors and loving thy enemy but there are other alternatives that would allow them to stay in thier country.We just havent looked into them.We have fought to hard for womans rights and for the gays and for anti-semitism. We have an obligation to not only to our way and I do call it our way of living but to our childrens way of living.