It was a suspenseful meeting of the Refugee and Immigrant Providers Network (RISPnet) at Fletcher Free Library on Thursday, September 14th, 2017. Our first keynote speaker emphasized the uncertainty of state and national refugee programs. Federal leadership has downsized some programs while leaving the bulk of our state budget for refugee resettlement intact. However, the number of refugee arrivals for next year is a complete unknown. Both an anticipated Supreme Court ruling in October and Trump administration policy deliberations suggest that the total number of national resettlements could be anywhere from 15,000-75,000. Possible voluntary state participation in refugee resettlement suggests that Vermont could still see a high number of refugees — even if the total number of national resettlements drops. Our fingers remain crossed as we anticipate the Supreme Court ruling and policy changes within the Trump administration….
Our other keynote speaker fielded questions and concerns from RISPnet organizations who have become inundated with eager UVM students who are exploring service learning, research, and internship opportunities related to refugees. RISPnet members and our keynote speaker suggested ways to help focus this interest on pertinent topics — such as housing or employment — instead of the refugees themselves.
As always — RISPnet members shared a number of events and resources for distribution (see PDF’s below). Two in particular — a Language Expo at UVM Medical Center and a free eight week class in Business English for Non-Native speakers — might be of the most interest to CSD staff.