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GOP candidate for Vermont governor softens refugee stance

MONTPELIER — One of the Vermont Republicans seeking his party's nomination for governor next year said he has become more comfortable with the vetting of Syrian refugees after learning more about how refugees are screened before they are brought to the United States.

Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott had called for a pause in allowing Syrian refugees to be settled in Vermont following the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris. Scott's primary opponent, Bruce Lisman, has called for a similar pause.

''I'm still learning about the process, but after being on a State Department conference call last week and meeting with the commissioner and deputy commissioner [of the Department of Public Safety] as well as State Police officials . . . I'm getting more comfortable,'' Scott told the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus. ''I think the process, on its face, looks safe.''


Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin, who is not seeking re-election, has been vocal in his call to bring Syrian refugees to Vermont as a humanitarian gesture. He has said all refugees are thoroughly vetted before being brought to the United States.

The resettlement of Syrian refugees has become an issue since the Paris attacks. A number of governors have said they do not want their states to accept Syrian refugees, but states do not have the authority to block refugee placement. Some fear terrorists could reach the United States through the refugee resettlement process.

There are no Syrian refugees in Vermont, but a small number are expected.