Request for 100 more refugees in Rutland may get little resistance this time around

Photo courtesy of city of Rutland

REFUGEES AGAIN?: The state’s Refugee Resettlement Program is at it again, applying for 100 more refugees after a similar request last year became a debacle when the prior mayor withheld information from the public.

RUTLAND, Vt. — Vermont’s Refugee Resettlement Program has requested 100 more Syrian and Iraqi refugees to be sent to Rutland, and so far local residents are quiet about whether they plan to oppose the move.

Earlier this year, the city expected 100 new refugees to come to town as part of a controversial plan arranged in secret by former Mayor Chris Louras and announced in April 2016. The resettlement stalled at 14 refugees after President Donald Trump this year issued executive orders banning travel from six Muslim-majority nations and suspending refugee resettlement for 120 days.

The Supreme Court allowed implementation of the restrictions but plans to hear arguments against the president’s orders in October.

“The travel ban as OK’d by the Supreme Court allowed for people to come in with family connections, but it did not acknowledge people who had a connection to a community through a relocation agency,” Board of Alderman Chair William Notte said about the need for a court decision.

Local critics of the resettlement plan agree the feds are calling the shots on what happens next.

“The problem we have is, it’s up to the Trump administration and what are they going to do about it,” said Dave Trapeni, a member of Rutland First, a group that opposed the first resettlement of refugees.

Trapeni said the group’s grassroots resistance against the resettlement program in 2016 caught national attention.

“We’re the only organized group that’s ever stopped a refugee resettlement in our area, out of the whole country,” he said. “We have organizations that call us and want to get the template for how we did it.”

Louras angered residents when he crafted the resettlement plan largely behind closed doors. The former mayor later said he lost his re-election over the matter.

Rutland First founder and Board of Alderman member Dr. Timothy Cook has long been on the front lines of this debate.

“I think the city has to think very long and hard about what we’re going to do about it, in terms of our budgetary concerns,” Cook said. “We have to find out if this is going to be revenue neutral or not, and if it’s not we’re going to have to figure out how we are going to pay for it.”

Residents hope the situation will be different this time around due to the election of Mayor David Allaire, who won by promising to bring transparency to the city.

“We were very active; we’re one of the reasons he’s in there,” Trapeni said.

Cook also commented on Allaire’s victory as a referendum on Louras and secrecy.

“David ran as an alternative to Louras, and our only problem with Louras was the secrecy issue,” Cook said. “If he had not been secretive about it for six months, I think the whole thing would have been less of an issue.”

He said he thinks Rutland First will likely stay quieter this time around.

“What’s gonna happen is gonna happen, and if we end up getting refugees we’ll do the best we can to support them, because that’s what Vermonters do.”

Notte, who has consistently supported refugee resettlement, also thinks the program will move forward smoothly.

“I think things will be different this time because, to some degree, the reality on the ground is different,” he said. “We have a new mayor, and we’ve gone through the process and it’s been thoroughly examined. It has been made very clear to people here that, at essentially every level, this is a decision that’s made by the feds.”

He said the request comes from the national refugee resettlement agency and the decision is made at the State Department.

The 14 refugees now in Rutland comprise three families. Another seven families that were approved are still overseas, presumably at a refugee camp. Notte said he’s had the opportunity to meet some of the people.

“If you go to the type of events where parents who are raising young children go to, you’ll see them and you’ll see what they are like,” he said. “Quite frankly, they’re like us.”

Notte said he sympathizes with those concerned about the violence in Western Europe where millions of refugees have moved in, but he said it will be different here.

“You look at what happened over there and it was a situation where people poured through open borders,” he said. “The vetting process for people to come here is incredibly thorough, and I think people who gain information about the process and look at it without preconceived notions, their comfort level begins to grow.”

Notte said he’s certain the local economy can absorb 100 new refugees. He said there are a lot of openings for skilled laborers, but added that some English studies and remedial education will be necessary to get refugees up to speed.

“If the families that have already arrived are any indication, or the families we got a chance to talk to in the Burlington area are any indication, these are people who want a second chance, and they want to make a good life for their children,” he said.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

12 thoughts on “Request for 100 more refugees in Rutland may get little resistance this time around

  1. Vermont, the Climate Refuge State?
    We are despairing.
    We will do anything to get federal dollars to flow to Vermont.
    Bring on thé world’s refuges from everywhere, the more the better.
    Rutland just placed an order for another 100.
    Way to go, Rutland.
    Should we continue to neglect poor Rutlanders?
    Have we no poor Rutland folks needing decent housing, food, clothing, education, training, etc.
    Do-gooding insanity, perpetrated by a few people on the many, has run amok.
    Help people help stay in the lands they currently occupy; 6 people can be helped there for everyone brought here.
    Their skills are needed, not in Rutland, but in the lands they currently occupy.

  2. This is the stupidest thing ever. Why bring people half way around the world to a nation they dont agree with? Why make us pay for their expenses? Why not LEAVE them to a neighboring country with similar values? Vermonters better get HOT about this topic. None of this makes any sense

  3. I met one of those Burlington family’s in the hotel lobby next to the Eiffel Tower. They were on holiday I presume. True story. I am not in favor of anyone from anywhere until we get immigration under control. Help them where they are.

  4. I think Rutland should take care of our own first. I know a lady who works 35 week and has a child and is homeless and can’t get help nor find a place. And how do the refugees get housing first?

  5. Time for the good citizens of Rutland to take a course in international affairs or watch a decent news show that tells the truth about refugees from the mid east’s 14th century in today’s western civilization, Got to wonder where their heads are at.

  6. Agree with all of the above! There are no skilled laborer job openings unless GE is the only job in town, and good luck getting in unless you have a relative there. It’s a money game, and tax payers are taking the hit. We don’t need refugees. We need jobs, and the ability to take care of our own. “Charity starts at home.” If you are a struggling ” middle class” family who do not qualify for any breaks; you’re screwed. Stand together and resist this program. We have people here who need help. In the future, I would bet we are looking at a bunch of illegals when Visas expire. I am not willing to hide them from the Federal government as I have seen communities do in another state. I reiterate, taking care of our own less fortunate.

  7. I want to emphasize on this I am a Vermonter I don’t have an issue with helping people in need. This is my story. I suddenly found my granddaughter and I homeless. I stayed in a motel for a while until I ran out of money. I tried to get help if I didn’t we would be on the streets. By the way she is disabled. There wasn’t one place that would help. We where going to be on the streets. Luckily I have a wonderful friend that took me in even though she has 8 people in her house already. I am still technically homeless. I did find an apartment but am having a hard time getting the move expenses together. Then again can’t find help anywhere except for Broc. They can do 250.00 whats left is 2000.00. How can we except refugees and not take care of the Vermonters that are homeless? By the way I did go to homeless prevention, they like you to take a renters course which is every monday of the month so that is another month of waiting. I believe the ones that are homeless should be able to get a place as soon as it is possible. So how are they getting the help and the Vermonters have to jump through hoops and go through all the red tape before we end up on the streets? Please answer me that.

    • Sorry about your situation.These renters courses(as well as all other feel good talk sessions)are nothing but jobs programs for liberal arts grads.It’s not about you at all,it’s about employing liberals.

  8. How about Rutland spend their energy combating the opioid epidemic as well as the crime instead of bringing in more issues! Absolutely ridiculous! How many people already can’t find jobs or housing. So glad I moved out of Rutland. They do nothing to combat the problems already in existence.

  9. Where are those skilled labor openings going unfilled and needing mass immigration to fill?
    What are the statistics for employment of masses of resettled refugees?
    How many “Syrian refugees” are actually Syrian?
    I suspect the only skill needed is to vote for democrats, and collect welfare.
    I hope Rutland continues to resist this invasion.

    • Most of the refugees are from Africa.They can’t read and speak very little English beyond gimme.They do like having lots of children however.Thankfully the taxpayers are generous with educational funding for interpreters and such.

      Great jobs program for teachers and para professionals.

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