(SPRINGFIELD, Mass.) (WGGB)–Both sides in Springfield’s refugee controversy met on Wednesday.
Mayor Domenic Sarno hosted the closed-door meeting.
The meeting was called after the mayor was criticized for his call for a moratorium on refugees coming into the city.
Mayor Sarno said he wasn’t attacking refugees but was concerned about issues like their living in sub standard housing units and placing more of a burden on an already stressed school system.
The mayor says it’s time for other communities to step to the plate,”We’ve done more than our fair share, we want to deal with what we have right now but the call they heard specifically is that other cities and towns in Western Massachusetts have to put their money where their mouth is,” says Sarno.
Both sides say the dialog will continue,”The mayor and his offices have allowed that we were going to form a joint refugee task force to discuss some of the ongoing issues of refugee resettlement here in Springfield,” says Kathryn Buckley-Brawner, spokesperson for the coalition.
Outside the meeting, a group of local refugees came to oppose the mayor’s call for a halt to refugees coming into Springfield,”We don’t agree with that because we need to stay with our families, we need to get our families,” says Mohamad Farah, a refugee from Somalia.
The social service agencies take strong exemption to the mayor’s trying to stop more refugees from coming into the city,”The mayor or the city of Springfield, at this point and we brought it up, as much as he stated his position on the moratorium , does not legally have the right to implement a moratorium,” says Archbishop Timothy Paul of the Council of Churches.
While both sides spent an hour and a half behind closed doors and vented their frustration, Mayor Sarno has still not changed his position.
He’s still calling for a moratorium on refugees coming into Springfield.