President's New Travel Ban Puts Rutland's Resettlement Program In Jeopardy

Mar 10, 2017

When President Donald Trump signed his latest travel ban this week, questions arose in Rutland about how it will affect refugee resettlement there. The city had expected to take in 100 mostly Syrian refugees this year, but only two families have arrived.

Trump's latest executive order goes into effect March 16 and it will impose a four-month suspension on all refugees admitted to the United States so security procedures can be improved. The order reverses the president's previous indefinite ban on refugees from Syria.

Lavinia Limon, president of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, which oversees the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program, says no Syrian families are currently in the pipeline for Rutland. She says new vetting protocols make it hard to know if any others will allowed in after the 120 day ban is lifted.

“If you look at the order it says the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department and everyone needs to look at the vetting process and what kind of information they get from the involved countries,” says Limon. “So when you think of Syria, the U.S. is going to approach Assad and say, ‘Give me information about Joe Blow refugee?’ [That's] Mr. Assad, who’s said everyone who isn’t for him is a terrorist?”

Because it’s unclear what kind of information the U.S. government will require for additional vetting, she says her agency has no idea if more families will be coming to Rutland. 

USCRI's Stacie Blake says the Trump Administration has also cut the total number of refugees being allowed to enter the U.S. this year from 110,000 to 50,000. She says that means many of the families who were already undergoing vetting in the resettlement pipeline will not be allowed to come — some of whom, she says, may have been destined for Rutland. 

Blake adds that there are thousands of refugees who have already gone through the vetting process successfully and have won clearance to be resettled. But she says once cleared, refugees are given 60 days to travel to the U.S., after which time their clearance expires. Blake says it's unclear if those individuals will be able to travel on day 121, or if they'll have to start the vetting process completely anew.

Trump's latest order also includes a 90-day ban on travel visas to the U.S. for citizens from six predominantly Muslim countries. Those countries include: Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Libya. Iraq was removed from a previous list.