FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – U.S. Sen. Chris Muphy (D-Conn.) shared a story on the Senate floor Monday night of a Milford resident from Syria who has been unable to reunite with his family as a result of President Donald Trump's executive order preventing refugees from entering the country.
Fadi Kassar's wife and two daughters – ages 5 and 8 – were stopped Saturday morning as they attempted to board a flight from Ukraine to the United States, Murphy said. They had been granted visas to come to the United States as refugees, but their visas were taken away from them and they were sent back to Jordan, where they had been staying.
Murphy said his office is working to assist Kassar, and called on Republicans to join Democrats in taking action to block Trump's executive orders.
“It's our decision whether these two little girls come to the United States or they go back to the war-ravaged home that their father left. It's up to us. It's not up to the President of the United States alone. Democracy allows us – allows for us to make a decision,” Murphy said in his speech on the Senate floor. “This is about tens of thousands of refugees who are fleeing persecution and terror and torture…It's up to us.”
Kassar and his family left Syria in 2011 amid the country's civil war. They first went to the United Arab Emirates, but were forced to leave when he lost his job, Murphy said. Kassar set out to find a home for his family. He tried to enter Europe through Tunisia, but was detained and sent back to Turkey.
He then went to Brazil, and entered the United States by crossing the Mexican border, but was detained entry, Murphy said. He was sent to Miami, where he was released. He then went to Connecticut and applied for asylum, which was granted in December 2015. He applied for visas for his family, which were granted on Tuesday, Jan. 24. Murphy said that when Kassar heard about the executive order, he paid an extra $1,000 to move their flight up in an attempt to get in under the wire, but was too late and his family was sent back.
“Imagine what those two little girls went through," Murphy said. "And imagine millions of other little boys and girls like them who had in their mind this place called America, a place that would welcome them, who would rescue them from the disaster that had become their lives, and imagine that dream that was literally hours away for these two little girls, extinguishing for millions others like them all around this planet."
Murphy said that there are 67,000 refugees currently in the pipeline to come to the United States.
"This isn't about a hundred or 200 or 300 or 400. This is about tens of thousands of refugees who are fleeing persecution and terror and torture," he said.
Murphy has been vocal in his opposition to Trump's executive order since it was signed Friday. Last week he penned an op-ed in the Huffington Post , arguing that the executive order makes the country less safe. On Monday he introduced legislation to reverse the executive order.