If you live in New York’s North Country, beware, because the great minds at the Adirondack North Country Association have invited Mayor Christopher Louras down from Rutland to tell them all about how to best get some refugees for themselves (for your towns!).
I’m sure the folks in Rutland will be tickled to see what their mayor says about them when he leaves home. “…ignorant by design!”
From The Sun:
KEESEVILLE — The outcry over Syrian refugees has shaped much of Rutland’s discourse this summer.
The dispute over whether to accept 100 asylum seekers has cleaved the city, pitting Mayor Chris Louras against constituents, city aldermen and other elected officials.
Rutland Mayor Louras told the gathering he got the idea to invite Syrians to Rutland from Gov. Peter Shumlin. Here the governor thanks seven of Vermont’s eight mayors for supporting his re-election bid, in Montpelier, Vt., Monday, Sept. 24, 2012. That is Rutland Mayor Christopher Louras to his immediate left. This photo identifies Louras as an Independent, but the Sun article says he is a Republican, which is it? Photo: http://bigstory.ap.org/photo/governor-mayors-1
As the five-term mayor waits for the Department of State to sign off on the expansion of the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program into his city — a roadblock thrown up by peeved aldermen — Louras ventured to New York last week, where he briefed local leaders on his push to make the state’s third-largest city a host for escapees of the war-torn nation.
A decision may come as soon as 10 days, he said, with the first family arriving as early as December.
Bringing refugees into the city, he said, goes hand-in-hand with urban revitalization efforts.
Their entry, Louras believes, would breathe new life into an ailing city.
But the road to get here wasn’t easy. The mayor has come under fire for a perceived lack of transparency. Earlier this summer, city aldermen asked the department of state to examine the issue. A former political opponent also circulated a petition, which was nixed, asking the issue be brought to a vote.
Louras admitted he could have been more open.
“I keep trying to go back to the human element,” he said. [So is he saying secrecy and lying are o.k. if one is moved by one’s emotions to save the world’s downtrodden and in this case Syrian Sunni Muslims—ed]
The crowd at the Adirondack North Country Association’s annual meeting, the daylong workshop that acts as somewhat of an experimental laboratory for regional leaders to tinker with economic solutions to rural problems, was perhaps more receptive.
Louras joined other officials in Keeseville last week to share his experiences — and to offer advice for other communities exploring similar efforts.
When resettlement agencies zero in on a possible relocation site, they look at three main areas, Louras said:
Safe and sanitary housing, the availability of entry-level jobs and the English-language learning opportunities necessary to build skills.
Rutland, a city of about 16,500, has all three, the mayor said.
“We’ve got a workplace problem,” Louras said, “not a jobs problem. Our employers are looking for employees.”
There it is readers, once again, they hide under the humanitarian white hat, but it is all about labor (I’m guessing the Rutland Chamber of Commerce backs Louras?).
Beware residents of the North Country, you could be the next resettlement site:
Discussions on accepting refugees have percolated this year in the North Country, and a number of organizations have been formed to explore the feasibility of the concept, including several in Essex County.
Then you can’t make this up, we have an immigration lawyer, Anas Saleh, a Syracuse-based lawyer who works directly with asylum seekers, telling us that refugees pay more taxes than they get out of the system in the form of welfare. Be sure to see this post from last year where we told you that a study by the Center for Immigration Studies tells us that each Middle Eastern refugee costs the US taxpayer over $64,000 per refugee over the first five years in the U.S.
The Sun continues:
Saleh said refugees don’t pluck jobs from Americans.
Contrary to public belief, immigrants actually pay into social welfare programs more than they receive, he said. [He is flat-out lying!—ed]
Louras then tells the gathering that he doesn’t want to get into politics, but proceeds to call other elected officials and citizens opposing him in Rutland “ignorant by design.”
While Louras said he wanted to avoid politics during the roundtable discussions, he admitted to taking hits and incurring damage from a “small-but-vocal” group of opponents on his home turf.
Expect the national negative discourse to be replicated at the local level, he said.
Could he have facilitated the discussions more transparently?
Sure, he admitted.
But some people are ignorant “by design,” he said, and would have sabotaged the process — including the city’s treasurer, who the mayor said circulated misleading information about the impact of asylum seekers on property values.
“She’s helping create that fake narrative,” Louras said.
The mayor, a Republican, said his greatest frustration surrounding the debate was what he referred to as a “dearth of empirical analysis” among refugee populations. [We have some analysis, impact on taxpayers is $64,370 per Middle Eastern refugee over first five years in US. Middle Easterners use welfare at a higher rate then some from other regions of the world—-ed]
“Those numbers are validated through academia, but there’s not a lot of studies,” he said.
While his decision to make Rutland a beacon for Syrians stemmed from a discussion with Gov. Peter Shumlin following last year’s terrorist attacks in Paris — Louras said he was further miffed by a letter sent by 30 governors barring refugees from their states — he warned attendees that their efforts shouldn’t lean on the government, but rather a constellation of nonprofit agencies.
Grassroots efforts like Rutland Welcomes, the mayor said, were critical in laying down early infrastructure, creating “action-driven” plans that explored everything from transportation to language learning.
I urge all of you to visit The Sun article, especially all of you Vermonters and Upstate New Yorkers, it is really full of enlightening information that I couldn’t possibly analyze if I worked on this post all day. They use the really refugee-overloaded/stressed cities of Syracuse and Utica as model cities even! Sheesh!