A students view on refugee resettlement

Support for Refugees
Figure 1. Support for resettling refugees in your community, by Party.

In a recent Vermont Public Radio poll conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute, 54 percent of Republicans (a slim majority) said that they would oppose an effort to resettle refugees in their community, whereas nearly 80 percent of Democrats voiced support for the resettling of refugees in their community.

Consistent with the partisan split in the level of support, only 20 percent of Democrats, contrasted with 60 percent of Republicans, felt as though refugee resettlement would have a negative impact on Vermont. Independents were split in their opinions, with just over 33 percent believing resettlement to have a positive impact and just under 36 percent believing it to have a negative impact.

Of the 637 complete interviews only 8 respondents cited religion as the likely source of a negative impact. For those who see resettlement as a negative, the reasoning most frequently given is the cost of domestic aid and the over taxing of local resources. Those who see refugee resettlement in a positive light are generally more united on the topic; the most frequent opinion shared was that it would make Vermont a more culturally diverse area, and a better place to live.

President Obama has promised asylum in the United States to 10,000 refugees, so far Vermont has been promised 100. Although only a fraction of the whole, a small homogeneous state like Vermont is easily affected. Vermont is.23 of a percent of the total population, yet they are accepting one percent of refugees. For the country as a whole, 10,000 is a small splash in the ocean, but Vermont is only a small pond and 100 people can make a big splash. No one knows what will happen in the coming months, but as Rutland County opens its arms to refugees the impact will become clearer.