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CT Advocates Join Demands for Higher Refugee Cap in U.S.

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Only 2,050 refugees have made it into the United States this fiscal year, according to the latest report by the International Rescue Committee. (Adobe Stock)
Only 2,050 refugees have made it into the United States this fiscal year, according to the latest report by the International Rescue Committee. (Adobe Stock)
 By Michayla Savitt - Producer, Contact
April 19, 2021

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Advocates for refugees in Connecticut are calling on President Joe Biden to increase the new cap on refugees entering the country, after his administration announced Friday the cap would remain at 15,000 nationwide, through Oct. 1.

That number is the same as the Trump administration's, and far below the goal of 62,500 Biden introduced earlier this year.

Bob Fishman, executive director of the Connecticut Immigrant and Refugee Coalition, said he's disappointed in the low cap, and his group is among those calling for an increase, especially since it affects refugees making their homes in Connecticut.

"We have a number of folks who have been waiting for their families, who are in the pipeline but have been held up," Fishman observed. "And held, in some cases, for upwards of a dozen years, but now held up even further."

The return to the low cap is attributed to a need to reorganize the Office of Refugee Resettlement since the last administration. It's expected a final, and presumably higher, refugee cap will be announced mid-May.

Fishman also wants to see help from the state for local refugees and immigrants. This includes Dreamers, young adults brought to the U.S. as children, now in the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), who also are waiting for federal action, but are not eligible for health care in Connecticut.

"There are DACA, who are serving as health aides, janitors at hospitals, nursing homes, all kinds of places where they are impacted by COVID," Fishman explained. "The fact that they're not eligible to get health insurance, because the state hasn't offered it to them, is unconscionable."

Fishman hopes the General Assembly will take action soon on Senate Bill 956, to open HUSKY to people regardless of immigration status.

He noted since there's no money in the state budget for the bill, it must first go through the Senate appropriations process, and may be considered as early as Wednesday.

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