Mayor Sarno Holds Talks With Resettlement Agencies Over Refugee Complaints In Springfield

A task force is being set up to look into complaints of ill treatment of refugees in Springfield. It is the outcome of a meeting Wednesday between Mayor Domenic Sarno and a coalition of groups. In calling for a moratorium on refugee resettlement, Mayor Sarno says his issue is not about attacking refugees, but on a lack of accountability and follow through by relief groups. He says the city has also reached its tipping point in absorbing what he describes as a disproportionate share of refugees.

“I want to legitimately help the families that are here now. But we’re sending a message up to the Federal government on down that other communities need to step up,” Sarno says.

Sometime heated exchanges were overheard in the closed door meeting hosted by the mayor. But Kathryn Buckley-Brawner, executive director of Catholic Charities, says those were healthy disagreements and was encouraged by the meeting. She says one of the task force’s charges is to look into the mayor’s complaints that resettlement agencies are failing to follow-up with refugees.

“We will research that. We will find out why that may or may not have occurred, and to what extent the service agencies can actually do a better job with the city in meeting the needs of the refugees,” Buckley-Brawner says.

Buckley-Brawner says the group, which will also include representatives from the city and state, is expected to meet within the three to four weeks.