Burlington Says: Welcome Syrian Refugees
November 28, 2016
6:30 PM Vigil at City Hall
7:00 PM City Council meeting begins
7:30 PM Public forum time certain [may begin earlier if there are many speakers]
On November 28th, the Burlington City Council will debate a symbolic resolution declaring our city to be open and welcome to Syrian refugees The resolution resolves that, “The Burlington City Council declares its support for resettlement of United Nations registered Syrian refugees in Burlington and calls on other Vermont municipalities to declare support in their own communities and to join Burlington in supporting a stronger national effort to resettle the most vulnerable Syrian refugees.”
You can find complete text of the resolution on the Burlington Board Docs site. The resolution is co-sponsored by Selene Colburn and Joan Shannon, in collaboration with Amnesty International USA in VT.
If you want to speak in favor of the resolution:
- The public forum portion of city council starts at a time certain of 7:30 PM, but may begin sooner if there are a large number of speakers.
- When you enter Contois Auditorium, you can sign up to speak.
- Speakers are granted 2-3 minutes each and asked to address the council via its President. It helps to have some quick notes or prepared remarks that you know will fit into that length of time.
- Please limit cheers, clapping or boos in response to other speakers as it lengthens the forum and makes it difficult to hear all points of view. You can express agreement or appreciation by waving your hands in the air.
- The resolution will be introduced later in the evening as the agenda moves forward. If you want to hear councilors discuss and vote on the resolution, please do.
Here are some points it might be helpful to make:
- The humanitarian crisis in Syria has left 250,000 dead and 8 million displaced inside Syria and over 4 million refugees seeking homes in other countries. The United States’ response has been relatively modest, providing sanctuary for approximately 10,000 refugees. Donald Trump’s election promises regarding Syrian refugees have left refugees and advocates fearful of their status and safety. Now is an important time to speak out in support of a continuing role for the United States in the resettlement of Syrian refugees.
- This is a symbolic resolution. The resolution does not request additional refugees or commit Burlington to a certain number of Syrian refugees. We recognize that Syrian refugees may be part of our local refugee resettlement program, as a result of federal decisions, and we welcome and support that. Not all communities or leaders have been so supportive, so this is an opportunity for Burlington to tell a different story.
- Many refugees in our community face hardship and discrimination. It’s important to recognize this truth in any attempt to say “refugees welcome” and to ask ourselves how we can recommit to the hard work of dismantling bias and supporting those who have chosen to make new lives among us. If your experience has put you into a position to speak to this, that is a really important perspective for city councilors to hear.
- Speak from the heart and let us know why this issue is important to you.