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Voters to weigh in on rights of refugees, immigrants

Nonbinding resolution on warrant of Annual Town Meeting

PUTNEY—At this year’s Town Meeting, voters will vote on typical agenda items such as the capital plan and the highway budget.

But on March 7, townspeople will also decide whether to support a nonbinding resolution on the rights of refugees and immigrants.

Residents Maggie Cassidy, Eva Mondon, and Nancy Olson composed the statement, and Cassidy and Mondon appeared at the Feb. 8 regular Selectboard meeting to announce the resolution and get Board members’ feedback.

The resolution mentions the “violence, political strife, [and] natural disaster” that forces millions of people worldwide to “become formal refugees,” and notes immigration as “the cornerstone” of the town’s and nation’s “development throughout history.”

It asks voters to allow Putney to join the Vermont Congressional delegation and Governor Phil Scott to “welcome and protect the rights of immigrants and refugees who seek to come to our state and our community.”

Selectboard Chair Josh Laughlin reminded Cassidy and Mondon that, because their statement arrived too late to be properly warned for Town Meeting, the resolution has to be nonbinding.

Cassidy and Mondon said they understood, and meant the resolution to be a “community declaration”with no legal standing.

“One of the reasons we wanted to come before you,” Cassidy said, “is, we will start publicizing this and giving other towns a chance ... to make a statement or declaration.”

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Originally published in The Commons issue #396 (Wednesday, February 22, 2017).

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