U.S. State Department: Syrian Refugees Approved to Come to Rutland

VT Refugee Resettlement Program unsure of first arrivals

By Rachel Aragon | raragon@nexstar.tv

Published 09/28 2016 11:10AM

Updated 09/28 2016 09:38PM

The Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program says Rutland has received the green light for Syrian refugees to come to the city.

The group posted the announcement on its Facebook page, saying it received notification from the U.S. State Department Wednesday morning.

"We just found out about it this morning, we've been told no sooner than December," says William Notte, President of the Rutland City Board of Aldermen.

He says while federal grants have been approved for the resettlement, no local money will help with transition.

"Clothing drives and furniture drives and there's various committees talking about when the refugees arrive, how we'll help them learn English and learn customs."

According to the U.S. State Department, USCRI Vermont has welcomed between 300 and 400 refugees per year, primarily in Burlington, Winooski, and Colchester.

Some local businesses in Rutland are ready to welcome their new neighbors for hire.

"We're an equal opportunity employer, and for people that apply we'll consider all applications, says Kelvans owner Bradford Barker.

But some people in the area are not embracing the refugees' upcoming arrival.

"There aren't jobs for the people here who live here, so I just think bringing in refugees is going to put a further strain on our economy" says Susan Winston.

Rutland Mayor Christopher Louras announced the city would accept 100 Syrian refugees in April 2016.  His decision was met with criticism from some residents. We reached out to his office on Wednesday for a comment several times but did not hear back.

"At this point we are definitely going to be a refugee resettlement relocation site, and we are looking forward to finding out when we will be welcoming our new neighbors," says Notte.

He says because of the long vetting process, the city won't know exactly where their new neighbors are from until shortly before they arrive.  

In an email to Local 22 & Local 44, Stacie Blake, of the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, says it will create a new office in Rutland to assist with the resettlement.

“We know when people’s lives have been disrupted, their ability to rebound is impressive and we will work closely with the community to help refugees reclaim basic human rights and dignity as they embrace a fresh start,” said Blake.

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