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NAACP letter to Mayor Domenic Sarno regarding refugees

NAACP letter to Mayor Domenic Sarno regarding refugees

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Published by Greg Saulmon

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Published by: Greg Saulmon on Aug 16, 2013
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11/14/2013

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August 15, 2013The Honorable Domenic J. Sarno, Mayor City of Springfield30 Court StreetSpringfield, MA 01103Dear Mayor Sarno,I read with concern your comments concerning the plight of refugees in the city of Springfield.As you are aware, refugees and displaced people move to the city in the hope of finding asense of community, safety and economic independence. However, in reality, what manyactually find are harsh living conditions, lack of security and poverty. Refugees face an array ofchallenges, some life threatening, which our city and supporting organizations should seek toeither amend or eliminate. Most refugees need emergency provisions and face long-termproblems including: education, employment, legal protection, and integration into their newsurroundings.Unfortunately, refugees experience discrimination in law and practice on several grounds, mostsignificantly race or ethnic origin, religion and status. This is evidenced by your stated concernsof an "increase in fraud, robbery and property crimes committed against refugees." I suggest toyou that these actions do not constitute an additional burden placed on police by refugees,but by those guilty of committing crimes against refugees. In addition to these concerns, thenature of the discrimination experienced by refugees also includes other areas of public life,including employment, access to accommodation and access to other goods, services andfacilities. It also involves harassment, vilification and at times actual violence.Sadly, our city is falling woefully short and is struggling to provide adequate services to our current refugee community. We have a moral obligation that calls for a more generous, morecompassionate and more responsible response to our concerns regarding our refugeepopulation than calling for an end to their resettlement in our city.In addition to your concerns regarding refugees, you have also suggested that our city isunfairly being targeted for group homes and other publicly funded residential facilities for people with mental illness and developmental disabilities, people with AIDS, people in recoveryand other “special needs.” This notion has been coupled with the argument that we also needto decrease the stock of low-income housing in the city as well. While I respect the concerns ofresidents on the potential impact of these programs on their neighborhoods, Itis disingenuous for elected leaders to openly express support for needy people while opposing

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