- Associated Press - Monday, June 12, 2017

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - A third Syrian refugee family has arrived in a Vermont city that months ago was preparing for the arrival of 20 to 30 families before President Donald Trump’s immigration orders upended the effort.

The couple and their three children arrived last Thursday from Jordan, said Amila Merdzanovic, director of the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program.

“They’re beautiful, they’re happy, they’re just so grateful to be here,” she said Monday.

Vermont Public Radio first reported on the family’s arrival in Rutland.

The first two Syrian families arrived in January before Trump signed an order banning travel from certain majority-Muslim countries and indefinitely halting entry to Syrian refugees. Courts have blocked the order and a revised one that the Trump administration issued.

Merdzanovic expects several more refugee families to arrive in Rutland this summer, but she hasn’t received their travel plans. She said she gets only one to two-weeks notice prior to their arrival.

“The people of Rutland have been nothing but welcoming,” she said of the latest family’s arrival.

The initial plan announced last spring by then-Mayor Christopher Louras to bring up to 100 refugees a year from Syria and Iraq to the city of about 16,500 residents had divided the economically depressed community. Some residents were eager to welcome the refugees, and others were concerned the newcomers could be a security threat or economic burdens.

Louras said his support for the refugee resettlement ultimately cost him the election in March, while a number of local issues also played a role.

New Rutland Mayor David Allaire, a former city alderman, was among those who criticized Louras for the way he rolled out the program. Allaire did not immediately return a phone call Monday seeking comment, but told VPR he was notified before the latest family arrived and communication with the refugee program has been good.

The resettlement program has submitted its application to the federal government for the new fiscal year proposing resettling about 20 families and is awaiting a response, Merdzanovic said.

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