(WTNH) — Senator Richard Blumenthal said his father was once a Jewish immigrant who fled German persecution before the start of World War II, and was able to make a better life for himself and his family here in America. He said Syrian refugee families should have that same opportunity, but many are getting held back because of bureaucratic red-tape.
Two months ago, Ramez Aldarwish finally landed on U.S. soil, after escaping a devastating civil war in his home country of Syria. Speaking through an interpreter three weeks ago, he told News 8 about the brutality in his homeland.
“The protesters went out on the streets and requested freedom,” said Aldarwish. “The government was just shooting them, shooting the protesters.”
Monday, Blumenthal laid out a plan calling on U.S. authorities to cut bureaucratic red-tape, that he said slows down the vetting process for refugees, sometimes trapping them overseas for years at a time. He laid out a four-point-plan to speed up the process.
“Permit people to apply directly to this country without going through United Nations High Commission on Refugees, if relatives are here already,” said Blumenthal.
Other points include video conferencing for security screening, improving repeat security checks that tend to expire while refugees are still being processed and allowing for some family members who passed screening to come to the U.S., and get settled, while other family members are still being screened.
“People fleeing persecution bring to this country skills and talents, ambitions and hopes that help drive the economy and create jobs,” said Blumenthal.
Aldarwish was moved to tears when talking about the war back home. Ideally, refugee families will assimilate and find work quickly. But in the two months since he landed here with his wife and two kids, work around New Haven has been hard to find because of the language barrier. He is taking adult education English classes every night, in hopes of landing a job soon.
“People when they get here they know it’s not easy,” said Kate Wood, Aldarwish’s case manager. “They’re ready and willing to learn English.”
More than four million Syrians have been displaced because of the civil war. Blumenthal said he will present his plan to the Secretary of State and the Department of Homeland Security later this week.