Officials meet to discuss suggested Springfield refugee problem - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Officials meet to discuss suggested Springfield refugee problem

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Two weeks after Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno's controversial request to the state department asking that they deny any request to bring more refugees to Springfield over fears that the city does not have the resources to accommodate them, he sat down to talk with local agencies about the growing concern.

"I want to deal with what we have now and be able to help out those families, that is supposed to be facilitated through those agencies which are receiving direct funding," said Sarno.

"The mayor or the city of Springfield at this point, and we brought it up in the meeting, as much as he stated his position on a moratorium he [Sarno] does not legally have the right to implement a moratorium for refugees coming into the city of Springfield," said Archbishop Timothy Paul, the president of the Council of Churches, speaking on behalf of the Coalition of Refugee Resettlement Group.

Representatives from Jewish Family Services, Lutheran Social Services, Catholic Charities as well as several other local leaders sat down with the mayor in a closed door meeting Wednesday afternoon. The hour and a half meeting resulted with the decision to create a task force to review the issue.

"We want to maintain open communication with the mayor's office," said Kathryn Buckley-Brawner, the executive director of Catholic Charities, speaking on behalf of the Coalition of Refugee Resettlement Group. 

A group of Somalian refugees who do not agree with the mayor gathered outside of the building where the meeting was held to explain why they think more refugees should be allowed to come to the city.

"We don't agree with that because we need to stay with our families. We need to get our families because you know some of us have not seen our families for a long time," said Mohamed Farah, a Somalian refugee.

Sarno had also said during a press conference after the meeting that 12 percent of the refugees coming to Massachusetts are sent to Springfield. He told the press that it's time for other cities and towns to share the responsibility.

The task force that has been created is expected to host its first meeting in the next three to four weeks.

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