Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno is not backing down on his call for a moratorium on placing refugees in the city. Sarno’s comments come ahead of a meeting Wednesday with several resettlement agencies.
In a letter to the U.S. State Department two weeks ago, Sarno cited reports from various city departments of refugees placed in substandard housing with significant code violations, as well as increased crime against new immigrants as his reason for calling for a halt of refugees into the city.
His letter drew protests from relief agencies and refugee advocacy groups, claiming the mayor was misinformed and was trying to deflect the ills of the city on an already vulnerable population.
In backing up his argument, however, Sarno says a group of Somali refugees came to his office Friday supporting his call for a moratorium. On Monday, one of them spoke to reporters through a translator, and said his family of seven arrived in Springfield last October and were placed by Lutheran Social Services in an apartment with no heat, stove or blankets to ward off the unfamiliar cold weather.
“They’re putting them in places with rents that are higher than they can pay,” Sarno says. “When we asked about cold weather months, are there coats or clothing provided? They’re saying no. The education, transportation, social follow up, health follow up. It’s not there.”
Told of Sarno’s comments, a spokesperson for Lutheran Social Services says it does regularly monitor refugees during their resettlement period.