Letter from the CVRAN President

April 26, 2022

Dear CVRAN Members,

Be Proud! This little non-profit proves that one person can change a life, or many lives. Diane Fitch persevered, and ultimately a man was released from detention. A Cabot farmer reached out to her neighbors, and is now feeding refugee and asylum seekers’ families fresh produce and home-baked fruit pies. Generous donors kept a car from going to the junkyard; it’s now on the road enabling an asylum seeker to get to work. And the Mexican Consulate will come to Montpelier again this year in person!

There was a good crowd in attendance at CVRAN’s annual membership meeting on April 21st. We couldn’t get away from having it on zoom, which has plusses and definite minuses. For those who missed it, there is a recording on the cloud. Some highlights are noted below.

The meeting started with a presentation by Laurie Stavrand, USCRI Community Partnership Coordinator (U.S. Committee for Refugees and immigrants). Laurie was very complimentary about CVRAN’s energies and our support of the Afghan families resettled in Montpelier. Laurie provided some color to the unprecedented humanitarian crisis that the US pullout in Afghanistan has created. Since last November, Vermont has received 148 refugees from Afghanistan. At this time, all the Afghans who were lodged for as long as eight months on US military bases have been resettled. Now, Afghans are moving off military bases in third countries such as Qatar to the United States, and a second, albeit smaller, wave of refugees is expected shortly. USCRI expects to receive Ukrainian refugees, too, but likely not until late October. Laurie added that housing is an ongoing problem. The Afghan refugees have considerable medical and dental needs. Their legal needs will also be sizable, depending on pending legislation.

Team leaders each gave reports. CVRAN currently supports eight asylees: our first four-member family, and four individuals- two from African countries and the two most recent from Russia. And intensive work began in December when Wendy and Steve Dale became hosts/family friends/team leaders/ for one of the Afghan families, as well as reaching out to other Afghan families in Montpelier.

The year had so many successes to be proud of, including new collaborative ventures – NEKASAN, Equal Exchange Food Hub, Montpelier Senior Center, USCRI, educational outreach efforts to local organizations, new volunteers, and an awesome fundraiser led by Nicky Morris. Nicky spoke about the March Arts Marathon, which she has chaired for two years. Not only is it our biggest fundraiser, clearing more than $68,000 this year, it is an amazing community building project.

Elections were held. CVRAN elected a new president -Rachel Walker Cogbill! And returning, this time as secretary, is Diane Fitch. Jen Myers continues as treasurer and Rebecca Plummer as a board member. Elected as board members at large were Priscilla Fox, Sarah Hofmann, and Hope Crifo. Still needed is a vice president. We also have an unfilled seat on the board.

Leaving the board after making major contributions are Lucy Wollaeger, who was also a member of the leadership team this past year; Dinah Yessne; and Wendy Dale, our long-term board secretary. Each has pledged to continue to volunteer, Dinah and Wendy intensively in direct service roles.


  • Volunteer table person and/or runners for the “Race Against Racism” on 5/01 at Montpelier High School at 10am. It’s fun and the weather forecast is sunny. This is an event organized by students of the high school.
  • A vice president and board member at large. Great opportunity to shape CVRAN policies and activities.

With great gratitude for all of your work,

Outgoing president, Hope Crifo

Incoming president, Rachel Walker Cogbill

Mexican Consulate

You can get a passport or matricula card, renew a passport, or get a birth certificate for a baby born in the U.S. In addition, there will be legal and medical personnel for private consultations. Please note that an appointment is required and you must make it yourself. The consulate will not honor appointments made by someone other than yourself.


Puede obtener un pasaporte o tarjeta de matrícula, renovar un pasaporte u obtener un certificado de nacimiento para un bebé nacido en los Estados Unidos. Además, habrá personal legal y médico para consultas gratuitas privadas. Tenga en cuenta que se requiere una cita y debe hacerla usted mismo. El consulado no aceptará citas hechas por otra persona.

Pictures From the Tunisian Feast

Equal Exchange Fundraiser Update and Continuing Opportunity

The online sale through the Equal Exchange fundraiser benefited asylum seekers and refugees here in Central Vermont, as well as the cooperatives and small farmers producing these foods.

Some products were so popular with customers that they wanted to continue buying them throughout 2022. Anyone can continue going to the special website set up by Sue and John Morris for the Central Vermont Refugee Action Network at Buy Equal Exchange products and 30% of the total will go to CVRAN.

Tunisian Feast Update

The Tunisian Feast was a fantastic success! More than 150 meals were prepared and given out to customers despite last-minute challenges with an unreliable oven. The proceeds went to help with CVRAN’s efforts. Thanks so much to everyone who participated!

Christs Church Benefit Concerts

This December Christs Church, the Episcopal Church in Montpelier, VT will be hosting free, noontime concerts to benefit CVRAN. CVRAN will have a table with information about what we do at the concert. Donations will go to support our work. Hope to see you there!

Tunisian Feast

Join us on December 11th for a delicious Tunisian Feast, prepared by Chef Ghazi for the benefit of the Central Vermont Refugee Action Network (CVRAN). The feast will be take-out and distributed at the side door of the Montpelier Senior Activity Center at 58 Barre Street in Montpelier. We ask you to make reservations in advance as described below and to let us know your preferred time for picking up your dinners. The dinner will include some of the finest Tunisian dishes.

Each dinner will include the following:

  • Couscous with lamb, chicken, or vegetables: Couscous is the signature dish of Tunisia. Steamed over a richly savory, mildly spicy sauce, Tunisian couscous is served with deliciously prepared meat or vegetables.
  • Tajine: The Tunisian take on a frittata, this delicious cheesy, veggie filled egg dish will delight your senses.
  • Tunisian Salad: A savory mixture of brightly colored fresh vegetables dressed in lemon vinaigrette and decorated with olives, capers and tuna.
  • Tunisian Bread: A lightly spiced braid of soft semolina bread, baked fresh with fennel, turmeric and black sesame, milk and olive oil. Crunchy on the outside, soft and squishy on the inside. A perfect compliment.
  • Dessert: You may choose between assida and baklava.
  • Assida: A delicacy like none other, savor this special hazelnut cream traditionally prepared for big celebrations.
  • Tunisian Baklava: The fine craftsmanship of this baklava will astound you…almonds are soaked to remove the skin, baked to release the flavors and then crushed by hand. The honey-soaked pastries speak for themselves.

When: Saturday, December 11, 2021 Serving 4:30-6:30

Where: Pick up is at the side door of the Montpelier Senior Activity Center, at 58 Barre Street, Montpelier

Cost: $20 per meal donation is recommended

How do I make a reservation?

Send an e-mail to:, put “Tunisian Feast” in the subject line. Include in your e-mail:

  • Contact person for your party
  • E-mail and phone number for contact
  • Total number of meals
  • For each meal choose an entrée (lamb, chicken, or vegetarian) and a dessert (assida or baklava)
  • Specify your preferred pick up time– 4:30PM, 5:00 PM, 5:30 PM, 6:00 PM

You will receive a confirmation e-mail.

How do I pay?

You may pay when you pick up your meals.
Pay by cash or by check made out to CVRAN.

How do I pick up my dinners?

Drive in the entrance to the Montpelier Senior Activity Center to the west of the building. Come all the way around the side and you will be greeted there to pick up your meals, and make your payment.

Note: You may also make a reservation by mail by sending in the above information, along with your payment, to S. Dale, 28 Terrace Street, Montpelier, VT 05602.

Equal Exchange Products Fund Raiser

Would you like to buy olive oil from Palestinian farmers, pecans from African American growers in our south, or support a 4,500 member cooperative in Kerala, India, that works on elephant friendly fencing, safe water systems, and schooling through buying cashew? Purchase these items and more at the website

All the items on the website are from Equal Exchange, an organization that benefits cooperatives and small farmers of economically disadvantaged peoples around the world. Buy them to support new Vermonters.

It’s easy:
  1. Go on to the website to make your order:
  2. Order by Nov. 21st or Dec. 9th. Pick up one week later in Montpelier (see website).
  3. 30% of what you order will go to CVRAN to support its work!
  4. Share this order list with friends.

With many thanks to Sue & John Morris of Marshfield who run this website & its work, free of charge, for good causes

Immigration in the News – August 2021

TPS Registration Extension

The Department of Homeland Security has announced extensions of the registration periods from 180 days to 18 months for initial (new) applicants for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) under the designations of Venezuela and Burma, and the redesignation of Syria.

Biden Continues Use of Title 42

The Biden administration is continuing the use of Title 42 to quickly turn back immigrants at the southern Border. Title 42 allows immigrants found at the border to be turned back immediately at the discretion of the border agent without going through the normal screening process. Unlike the Trump administration practice, Biden is not using Title 42 to turn back minors who show up at the border alone.

“Migrant Protection Protocols” Renewed by SCOTUS

The Supreme Court ruled that the Biden Administration must revive a Trump Administration decision mandating that some asylum seekers remain in Mexico pending court decisions. These “Migrant Protection Protocols” require that individuals who arrive at the southern border requesting asylum are given notices to appear in immigration court and sent back to Mexico, until they are told to return to a specific port of entry at a specific date and time for a court hearing.

Legal representation for these people is rare, believed to be less than 7.5% of individuals subject to MPP. The lack of counsel, combined with the dangers that individuals face in border towns, have made it nearly impossible for anyone subject to MPP to successfully win asylum.

Goddard College Offers to House Afghan Refugees

Goddard College has offered to house Afghan refugees at their Plainfield campus for at least two months this upcoming fall. This follows Governor Scott’s announcement to the White House and the state that Vermont welcomes refugees from war-torn countries. There are no clear plans to bring Afghan refugees to the state yet.

Countries Pledge to Accept Afghans After U.S. Military Departs

The United States and 97 other countries said they will continue to take in those fleeing Afghanistan after the U.S. military withdrawal. The joint statement notes that the Taliban have given assurances that people with travel documents clearing them to enter any of those countries could safely depart. But the international community has little influence over what takes place within Afghanistan’s borders. Many fear that the process of applying for visas and travel documents within Afghanistan will only identify those who wish to leave to the Afghan government.


Immigration in the News, July 2021

FACT SHEET: The Biden Administration Blueprint for a Fair, Orderly and Humane Immigration System 7/27/2021

This lengthy document includes the following policies relating to asylum seekers:

  • Establishing a dedicated immigration court docket to consider the protection claims of eligible recent arrivals quickly and efficiently.
  • Authorizing asylum officers to adjudicate asylum claims and establish eligibility standards that harmonize the U.S. approach with international standards.
  • Maximizing legal representation by working with pro bono legal service providers.
  • Reducing immigration court backlogs by hiring more immigration judges.
Judge Blocks DACA Program, Barring New Applicants

A federal judge in Texas ruled that the U.S. government can no longer accept new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This is a major setback for immigrants who were brought to the United States unlawfully as children.

The Biden administration is ordered to close the program to first-time applicants while a Texas-led lawsuit makes its way through the federal courts.

Those currently in the program will still be permitted to work and be protected from deportation until a further court ruling.

Farm workforce act: A path to citizenship for undocumented farmworkers, or indentured servitude?

The Farm Workforce Modernization Act would grant undocumented farmworkers legal status and a path to citizenship. But because of its length-of-service requirements workers would be required to work for four or (in most cases) eight years after achieving certified agricultural worker status before they could qualify for permanent residence. As a result activists claim it would limit farmworkers’ rights to unionization and legalization and leave them vulnerable to low wages and poor working conditions.

The bill passed the House in March with bipartisan support, but is unlikely to pass in the Senate.

A Pathway to Citizenship and Economic Growth Through Budget Reconciliation

The Senate Committee on the Budget released a draft of its $6 trillion reconciliation budget blueprint which includes $126 billion to put immigrants on a pathway to citizenship.

This column at the Center for American Progress argues that this is an appropriate use of the budget reconciliation process because putting Dreamers, those eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and essential workers on a pathway to citizenship would add a cumulative $1.5 trillion to U.S. GDP over a decade and create over 400,000 new jobs.

Boundless Immigration News Weekly Recap: July 16, 2021

The White House will be assigning more immigration officers to review DACA applications and promote “public awareness” to remind current DACA beneficiaries to renew their work permits and deportation deferrals.