Update October 12th: USCRI says everything is great for refugees in “welcoming” Vermont, here.
This is a very funny news story. Funny because one gets a feeling that the poor reporter and the town officials are struggling to report and discuss problems with the large immigrant influx into their “welcoming city” while still attempting so very hard to be politically correct. No, surprise I suppose, this is Vermont afterall!
From the Burlington Free Press:
A continuing influx of immigrants and refugees is enlivening the cultural life of the city even as it crowds the schools, challenges teachers and police, and raises questions among residents about the mix of rental and owner-occupied housing in the city.
Winooski is among the most urban places in Vermont, with a large number of relatively inexpensive rental units near jobs and public transit. The Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program often places its clients in Winooski for those reasons.
About a third of the students in the Winooski public-school system are English language learners, School Superintendent Steve Perkins said last week. That’s up from about 20 percent of the student population four years ago.
So the number of English language learners has jumped dramatically. No problem.
Perkins said he sees the refugee influx as an opportunity and a challenge, but not a negative.
No, not a negative.
The growing number of students threatens to fill the school buildings to capacity, and the school district is beginning to investigate alternatives, such as holding classes for some students after regular hours, Perkins said.
It is all worth it! All those multicultural kids kicking soccer balls in the streets!
At Monday’s meeting, City Councilor Jodi Harrington acknowledged the refugee influx presents challenges but said they are worth it.
“I really see a beauty in all these people coming to Winooski,” Harrington said, adding she enjoys seeing children from various backgrounds kicking soccer balls around her West Street neighborhood.
But, maybe we should start limiting the conversion of homes into apartments so we can slow the number of refugees coming. And, hey, maybe it’s time for some other towns to step up and take these people and share the joys of multiculturalism.
School Board members asked the City Council to look into city planning to limit the pace at which homes are converted into apartment houses.
“We are creating so many rental units, they’re bringing everybody here,” School Board member Douglas Isham said, suggesting other communities accept more refugees.
But, this is really worth it!
We’ve written about Vermont a bunch of times. Here is one post in which a heated exchange occurred between a critic of the Vermont Refugee Program and its defenders.