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Syrian refugee update

Syrian refugee children stand outside their school in Zahle, Lebanon, in the country's Bekaa Valley. The international Catholic charity Caritas has been instrumental in helping Syrian refugees attend Lebanese public schools to continue their education. (CNS photo/Dale Gavlak) Syrian refugee children stand outside their school in Zahle, Lebanon, in the country's Bekaa Valley. The international Catholic charity Caritas has been instrumental in helping Syrian refugees attend Lebanese public schools to continue their education.
With the sounds of Syrian refugee children in the background, Cheryl Hooker of St. Peter Parish in Rutland took a phone call at her home to talk about Rutland Welcomes’ refugee resettlement plans in light of news that 100 Syrian refugees may not be coming to the city after all.
 
Rutland City Mayor Christopher Louras has said an executive order expected from President Donald Trump would halt plans to resettle the refugees. 
 
The order also says that the secretaries of state and homeland security “as appropriate” shall cease the processing and admittance of refugees from Syria until the president determines otherwise.
 
“It’s disconcerting right now because of what is going in in Washington,” said Hooker, a volunteer with Rutland Welcomes, a volunteer network of several hundred people that has been working with the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program. “Rutland may not be a resettlement area because of scaling down the number of refugees being allowed in” to the United States.
 
A Syrian family of five is staying with her and her husband, George, another volunteer with Rutland Welcomes. A second family is staying with another host family.
 
“These may be the only two families that come,” Cheryl Hooker said. “It’s really disappointing. We were looking to do the right thing and help people.”
 
Staff from the resettlement program is helping the two refugee families find permanent housing.
 
Students from Mount St. Joseph Academy in Rutland collected towels for the 100 Syrian refugees expected in Rutland, and a collection at St. Peter Church provided funds to purchase 30 irons for the families.
 
“This is an opportunity for us as Christian, as Catholics, to be accepting,” Hooker said before the first refugees arrived earlier this month. “It’s the right thing to do. There but for the grace of God go any one of us.”
Last modified onThursday, 26 January 2017 10:00
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