Rutland to welcome Syrian refugees, city residents stand divided

RUTLAND, Vt. (NEWS10) – The Rutland community is divided after learning 100 Syrian refugees will arrive in the city beginning in October.

Between October 2016 and September 2017, around 25 to 30 families will be arriving in Rutland every other week. Eighty percent of them will be women and children.

They will be living in rental housing throughout the city to start a new life.

“We have capacity for housing, and we certainly have capacity for entry level positions that they need to build their English language skills,” Rutland Mayor Christopher Louras said.

NEWS10 ABC asked the mayor if he was nervous about the refugees posing a threat in his city.

“Many of the individuals who we find are pushing back are doing so for reasons of misinformation if not outright disinformation,” he responded.

Cara Bennett, whose husband is Muslim, said she is open to welcoming the refugees to Rutland.

“As for what everyone is saying about, you know, being a threat to our town, I disagree with that,” she said. “I disagree that you can group a whole group together and say they’re bad. I think that a lot of them are good people. They just picked the wrong town to put them in.”

But others are on edge.

“I think our priorities are a little messed up,” Bill Jalbert said. “I think we don’t even take care of our veterans that have gone and fought in wars. A lot of homeless veterans and veterans that need care, and I think we should focus our needs here before we start helping people outside of the United States.”

As part of the safety protocol before the refugees arrive, there will be 1,000 days of in-depth interviews.

Louras wants to assure residents that there will be a vigorous screening process when they arrive.

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