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Branford Church Organizing Candlelight Vigil for Refugees

Published Jan. 30, 2017 • Last Updated 02:14 p.m., Jan. 30, 2017

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A committee that welcomes refugees to Branford is planning a candlelight vigil on Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 5:30 p.m. on the steps of the First Congregational Church on the Branford green.  The vigil will show support for refugees impacted by an "extreme vetting" executive order issued by President Donald J. Trump on Friday, Jan. 27.

Branford First Congregational Church Refugee Committee member Claire Bennitt said the public is invited to join the Feb. 1 candlelight vigil.

"We are standing strong together, hopefully with a lot of other people from Branford, to impress to [President] Trump that he can't do this. It's illegal," said Bennitt.

The Jan. 27 executive order suspended the U.S. refugee program for a period of 120 days. The order also placed a 90-day ban on travel to the U.S. by citizens of seven mostly Muslim countries of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

Last year, First Church, together with Branford's First Baptist Church and St. Mary's Church, worked together to welcome and support a Syrian refugee family which temporarily moved to Branford. The cooperative local effort was conducted with the regional assistance of Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS) in New Haven. IRIS is a part of global Church World Service. 

Bennitt said First Church's Refugee Committee was anticipating welcoming a new refugee family here within the coming days.

"We have hosted a family that has subsequently moved on, and we were waiting for our next family, thinking probably they would be coming this week; only to find out we have a ban on Muslims from specific countries," said Bennitt, speaking with Zip06/The Sound on Jan. 30.

Protests over President Trump's Jan. 27 executive order erupted at airports around the nation and in major cities over the weekend of Jan. 28 and Jan. 29 and are continuing today in some locations. In a statement released to the press on Sunday, Jan. 29, President Trump defended the order and specified it is "...not a Muslim ban."  Read the full statement here


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