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Expected arrival of refugees discussed in Wausau


A dozen or so community leaders came together to discuss benefits, concerns, and other aspects of the pending plans to resettle as many as 80 refugees in Wausau over the next year.

Yee Leng Xiong of the Hmong American Center says many of those that will be brought here are scared and looking for a new start.

“Resettlement is the last option for families who have fled their homes due to threats of violence, persecution and the fear of death. They give up so much just to ensure their families survive, and we have this opportunity to provide them with safety and security as they continue to rebuild their lives as an American.”

Father Tom Linder of St. Ann's Parish says he feels a higher calling to support those coming here.

“This is a test for all of us in some way in terms of are we a welcoming community… are we a place where people who would want to be at home. I think for some of us who are rooted in certain faith traditions, it really is a test of if we are really who we claim to be.”

Wausau Mayor Katie Roesenberg says she knows this situation might be scary or troubling for some, but the community will grow from it.

“We’re hearing from businesses after COVID that they need people working. We’re hearing from… the school district is dealing with different shifts in populations too. I think this is a great opportunity to introduce folks to new people and just grow”

Wisconsin's Bureau of Refugees program director Bojana Martinez, a former refugee herself, says she has full confidence in the vetting process for those that will be placed here- both from her personal and professional experience.

“I came here as a refugee myself…. once a refugee always a refugee…. And I’ve done this job long enough to know the Untied States will not let people in without being vetted.”

Leaders on Thursday's conference call included Mayor Katie Rosenber, Police Chief Ben Bliven, Yee Leng Xiong of the Hmong-American center and Marathon County board, and Will Hsu of Hsu's Ginseng. Other faith leaders and retrospectives of local school districts also participated.

It remains likely that the 80 to 85 refugees that will be settled in Wausau will not just be from Afghanistan but from other parts of Asia or Africa as well.

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