Springfield Mayor Request on Refugees Not the First in New England

A State Department spokesperson says it hasn’t received Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno’s letter, asking the department stop placing refugees in the city. It’s not the first time the leader of a New England community made this kind of request. 

In 2011, Manchester, New Hampshire Mayor Ted Gatsis asked the State Department to halt placing refugees there. He says the request was made to allow the city time to deal with an influx of new arrivals in Manchester, without adding even more.

“I wasn’t looking for a moratorium forever. We were looking just to get the folks that we have in this community, to be part of the community, to learn the language, to get in school, to get through school and then let’s talk about more coming,” Gatsis says.

Gatis says federal officials did reduce refugee placements following the letter he sent. In fact, after several years of seeing between 200 and 300, the number dropped to just over 100 in the 2012 fiscal year. In his letter, Sarno says Springfield is receiving more than its fair share of refugees and asked the government not to place any there next year. He says the rate of crime against refugees is high and the needs of non-English speaking students at public schools are diverting limited resources from others.