Five-term Mayor Chris Louras lost his re-election bid after he created a plan to resettle 100 Syrian refugees in the small town of Rutland, Vt. He was overwhelmingly defeated by Alderman Dave Allaire 52% to 34%.

In April 2016 Mayor Louras made a surprise public announcement that the small town of 16,500 people would be accepting 100 Syrian refugees by the end of FY17.

Soon it was revealed that starting in 2015 the mayor began meeting with refugee resettlement representatives and government officials in secret to develop and execute the plan. Even the Board of Alderman had not been informed or consulted in the operation.

The Boston Globe reported in May 2016 that the refugee resettlement program would, “gradually send Rutland more Syrian refugees than are currently living anywhere else in New England. . . The influx would be a jolt of instant cultural diversity for Rutland, where there are no mosques and no other Syrian immigrants.”

Despite the concerns of the residents, one of the largest refugee resettlement contractors set up an office in the town to begin bringing in refugees.

When the residents of Rutland asked the refugee contractor, United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), for public-record documents, USCRI refused. An email from USCRI Director Amila Merdzanovic to Mayor Louras revealed that they did not want to give out the information because, “all sorts of people will come out of the woodwork...”

Vermont has a history of resettling refugees, however, the large number of refugees combined with the lack of information and the secrecy of the plan caused many residents to lose confidence in the mayor.

While the mayor did receive approval to begin accepting refugees due to Pres. Trump’s executive order, only two Syrian families have been resettled in the town.


National Security

Updated: Mon, Jul 24th 2017 @ 4:24pm EDT