Late one bitter Winter’s night this past January, Rutland Mayor Christopher Louras helped move in his town’s newest residents: Two refugee families from Syria, arrived by way of Turkey to this post-industrial, blue-collar town of 16,000 in Central Vermont.
“As our new neighbors were fleeing for their lives, coming to a new home a half a world away to rebuild those lives, they needed to understand that they were welcome,” Louras said, in a recent NPR iinterview.
When Mr. Louras–a Gulf War vet, who has served as his town’s Republican Mayor since 2007, and is poised to become it’s longest serving mayor ever— persuaded his City Council to accept a plan to resettle 100 Syrian refugees starting in 2017, he could only have guessed at how contentious and wide-ranging the issue would become. Now on the front-lines of this national issue, Louras and his town (previously, home to a sole Syrian-American family) represent a geo-political Petri dish in which to study the fast-evolving and ever-changing dynamics of America’s attitudes towards immigration and refugees, and the internal and external fallout form the collision of his and Trump’s respective plans.
THE HOOK is pleased to welcome Mayor Louras to New York for a candid talk about his experiences in Rutland and beyond, in what is sure to be a timely and closely-watched episode.