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New Canaan Mom Won't Let Trump's Ban Stop Efforts To Help Refugees

Juli Kurtzman and her husband Ken. Juli Kurtzman is spearheading an effort to help bring a Syrian refugee family into New Canaan.
Juli Kurtzman and her husband Ken. Juli Kurtzman is spearheading an effort to help bring a Syrian refugee family into New Canaan. Photo Credit: Juli Kurtzman's Facebook page

NEW CANAAN, Conn. — Ever since President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration took effect last week, New Canaan mom Juli Kurtzman has been growing more concerned with each passing day.

Kurtzman, who has been spearheading an effort to settle a Syrian refugee family in New Canaan, said she is now unsure whether the family she is helping will be able to come from Syria at all.

"This makes no sense to me since the terrorists that have bombed us did not come from any of the banned countries," she said of the order, which bans entry to the U.S. for people from seven Muslim-majority nations, including Syria.

However, one thing is for certain — a refugee family will definitely be setting down roots in New Canaan, regardless of where in the world they come from, Kurtzman said.

Related story: Click here to read how a New Canaan mom is spearheading an effort to help refugees.

She is partnering with Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services: IRIS, a refugee resettlement agency in New Haven, which is helping to train volunteers to help acclimate the family once they arrive.

According to Kurtzman, IRIS was able to bring in a few families right before the ban was enacted.

IRIS is bringing in families from Eritrea and the Congo as well as from Afghanistan. These countries are not on Trump's list of banned countries, she said.

Kurtzman, as well as some of the leaders on her committee in New Canaan, will find learn more about the refugee family Thursday when they visit the IRIS offices. "I will get a better idea then," she said.

She said she is excited to move forward and bring in a family.  "We just want to see people in need find safety and a good home," Kurtzman said.

To date, about 200 New Canaan residents have signed up to volunteer and help a refugee family settle into town.

Through a GoFundMe page that Kurtzman created , over $17,000 of a $15,000 goal has been raised to help the family. About 90 people have donated to the cause there.

In a recent post on the page, Kurtzman explained how the funds will be used.

"We will be using these funds to pay for the family's housing initially and then to supplement their rent for up to a year. We also need to purchase new mattresses and box springs for every member of the family.

"Our family will need significant medical, dental and psychological care. ... While we have doctors who have offered their services for free, there are still medical supplies, medicines, co-pays and such. Also, they will need cell phones and a computer for the kids."

To contribute to the GoFundMe page, click here .

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