Refugee Resettlement

Students from Lynda Siegel's ESL class are learning water safety through a free course at the Greater Burlington YMCA.
Doug Bishop/Greater Burlington YMCA, courtesy

For many Vermonters, swimming is learned early and central to summer fun. But for children who are new to the United States and still learning English, swimming can be a completely foreign concept.

The arrival last week of a Syrian couple with three children bring the total of refugee families in Rutland to three. It's far lower than the 20 to 25 refugee families the city had been expecting.
Nina Keck / VPR

It’s taken months, but another Syrian refugee family has arrived in Rutland. The newest family, a married couple with three children, arrived last Thursday, said Amila Merdzanovic, Executive Director of the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program.

The screening process for refugees entering the U.S. involves multi-layered security checks, interviews, and an overseas medical exam. After their arrival, families will undergo another health assessment, usually coordinated by a resettlement agency.

It’s where their stories begin to unfold to the doctors and physicians-in-training at Yale University's Pediatric Refugee Clinic.

Nina Keck / VPR file

Members of Rutland Welcomes, a grassroots organization that’s been assisting with resettlement efforts, say four more Syrian families are expected to arrive in Rutland before Sept. 30, 2017.

Refugee resettlement agencies receive funding based on the number of people they anticipate resettling, so the uncertainty around President Trump’s travel ban has serious fiscal consequences.

Jeff Thielman is the CEO of the International Institute of New England, a resettlement agency working in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. His agency expects eight refugees to arrive by March 28.

Kathleen Masterson / VPR

Many refugees who arrive on U.S. soil finally feel safe after decades of war or torture or loss of family members. But just because they're removed from physical harm, it doesn't mean the pain is over. 

Nancy Eve Cohen / WNPR

At Philip G. Coburn Elementary School in West Springfield, Massachusetts, students come from all over the world. Most of the English language learners there arrive as refugees.

Nina Keck / VPR

With Rutland set to get a new leader Wednesday, outgoing mayor Christopher Louras is reflecting on his loss, his legacy and the direction the city is taking.

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.

Steven Pappas / Times Argus

A number of Vermont communities took up Town Meeting resolutions in response to intensified deportations of undocumented immigrants and President Trump’s new order suspending all refugee resettlement and barring visas for citizens of six Muslim-majority countries.

Nina Keck / VPR

In Rutland, the third time was a charm for challenger David Allaire, who unseated longtime mayor Christopher Louras in a surprise upset. 

The number of refugees, asylum seekers and other foreign-born people who settled in Maine last year was the largest in recent years.

Nina Keck / VPR

In Rutland, three challengers are trying to unseat Mayor Christopher Louras in next week’s election. Some consider the vote a referendum on refugee resettlement, but the candidates argue the race comes down to differing visions and leadership styles for the city.

Nina Keck / VPR

In Rutland, 17 candidates are competing for six seats on the city’s board of aldermen. That’s not a record, according to the city clerk’s office, but it’s close. 

Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Last week, the Vermont Senate gave unanimous approval to a bill that would limit Vermont’s role in federal immigration enforcement. And for a group of young Vermonters on hand to witness the Senate debate, the legislation hits particularly close to home.

Nina Keck / VPR

Nearly 5 million Syrian refugees have fled to nearby countries like such as Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt, according to the latest count by the United Nations. About three quarters of those Syrians are women and children.

As immigration officials ramp up deportation of new classes of unauthorized immigrants, more residents and visitors without documents fear run-ins with police.

On New Hampshire's diverse Southern border, a traffic stop in one town could lead to very different consequences than the same kind of stop one town over.

Kathleen Masterson / VPR file

The Canada Border Services Agency has created a makeshift refugee processing center to respond to the influx of refugees crossing the border west of Lake Champlain.

Kathleen Masterson / VPR

Several aid organizations and pro-immigrant groups are pressuring the Canadian government to pull out of a controversial program that turns away almost all refugees coming in through the United States.

Nina Keck / VPR

When I spent a week reporting in Amman, Jordan, on the Syrian refugee crisis, I was able to have remarkably candid interviews with Syrian families and Jordanians. But none of that would have been possible without help from my “fixer.”

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