Burlington City Council Passes Resettlement Support, Sanctuary City Resolutions

BURLINGTON, Vt. - Monday night, Burlington City Council voted on two resolutions regarding the refugee crisis.

Up for discussion was to reaffirm Burlington as a sanctuary city, and another in support of resettling Syrian refugees in the city, should the opportunity arise.

Both resolutions passed by a wide margin.

While both resolutions garnered a lot of support from the public and city officials, one councilor was against the resettlement resolution due to security concerns.

Kit O'Connor, the Vermont legislative coordinator for Amnesty International USA, spoke to any questions regarding security concerns involving refugees entering the country.

"Of course there are concerns, we should all want to protect our safety and that of our loved ones. And the truth is, refugees are bar none the most carefully vetted people to enter our country," said O'Connor.

Kamal Dahal has had to go through the vetting process himself. Originally from Nepal, the 24 year-old moved to the United States when we was 16 year-old. He's been in Vermont since 2015.

"The whole process took about six months but for some families you know if they had previous medical conditions, that needed to be treated before they come here, it may take longer for them," said Dahal.

Other refugees also spoke at Monday night's meeting, including a man originally from Bhutan, but who has lived in Vermont for four years.

"As a human being, it is our responsibility to help those who are in need," he said.

The resolution councilors discusses only states supporting resettling refugees in Burlington. It does not commit the Queen City to requesting or accepting more.

O'Connor says the resolution is "non-binding, symbolic and simply states the City of Burlington welcomes Syrian refugees and we urge other Vermont municipalities to do the same."

Mayor Miro Weinberger voiced his support ahead of the meeting, where hundreds gathered in a vigil outside of City Hall in support of the resettlement resolution.

"Our city is proud to have served as a refugee resettlement community for 35 years, and that commitment has made us a stronger community without a doubt," said Weinberger.

Others in the crowd echoed his sentiments.

Mary Hamilton lives in Winooski.

"Burlington has always been known as a welcoming city; we've had the refugee resettlement organization forever and have gone through successive groups of folks who have needed a place to go," said Hamilton.

21 year-old Janie Joppie lives in Essex Junction.

"In a city with a history like this, it is doubly important for us to reaffirm that we're continuing that tradition of acceptance and welcoming," said Joppie.

Right now, no Syrian refugees are currently scheduled to come to Burlington.

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