Montana Realtor group stirs up controversy with email about Syrian refugees
'High-level employee' urges fellow Realtors to oppose refugee settlement
A “high-level” employee of a Montana Realtor group stirred up controversy recently by sending an email to approximately 175 local Realtors urging them to vocally oppose the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the area.
According to a report from ABCFoxMontana.com, a “high-level” employee of the Bitterroot Valley Board of Realtors is “under fire” after sending an email to the group’s members with a link to a “conservative, anti-Muslim” website, as well as urging the Realtors to attend a meeting of the county commissioners where the area’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis was on the agenda.
The meeting was held last week to discuss a plan that would bring a refugee re-settlement agency to Missoula, but not a refugee settlement itself.
But that didn’t stop the Bitterroot Valley Board of Realtors employee and others from speaking out against Syrian refugees.
Attending Thursday's commissioners meeting were hundreds of western Montana residents packed into the Hamilton Middle School gym.
The majority spoke against bringing Syrian refugees in. Many said they disagree with what they understand to be refugees' religious beliefs.
"Know what Muslims believe about non-Muslims. We are infidels to them," said one resident, moved to tears.
The issue for the Bitterroot Valley Board of Realtors employee is that the email was sent from a work account, which could run afoul of the National Association of Realtors’ fair housing rules.
Travis Martinez, the president of the Bitterroot Valley Board of Realtors, told ABCFoxMontana.com that the views of the email do not represent the views of the organization.
"Like any group of people, you have opinions on all sides of the issue and the biggest thing the association is concerned with is to ensure that our position is made clear as an organization and then our members can, in their private opinions, do whatever they wish," Martinez told ABCFoxMontana.com.