Some small-town residents of Rutland, Vt., are upset at their mayor’s decision to resettle 100 Syrian refugees throughout 2017 in the area.
Rutland Mayor Christopher Louras defended his decision, saying the town’s demographics are declining, and they are having trouble recruiting younger workers. He also thinks refugees will bring cultural diversity.
“We need people,” Louras declared to The New York Times.
Louras’s decision sparked outrage among some residents who say they had little say in the mayor’s decision, which would effect them all. They formed an advocacy group called Rutland First to pressure Louras to reverse his decision.
An open letter on the group’s Facebook page says “Rutland First DOES NOT condone violence of any kind towards ANYONE,” continuing “we may disagree with the mayors actions of bringing refugees to our community for a variety of different reasons, BUT never have we wanted harm to come to any human being.”
The group’s advocacy has had some effect. Seven out of 11 local officials sent a letter to the U.S. Department of State saying the town has received limited resources after accepting the refugees and that “a significant part of our community has also grown anxious about the program.”
“We’re kind of stuck out here, with our level of economic depression, with our level of crime and drug issues,” Rutland resident Dr. Timothy Cook told TheNYT. He continued, “We’re the ones who are gonna have to foot the bill for this.”
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