The mayor of Springfield, Mass., Domenic Sarno, is angry that the federal government keeps sending Somali refugees to his city, where a third of the population is below the poverty line. I don't blame him. "I have enough urban issues to deal with. Enough is enough. You can't keep concentrating poverty on top of poverty,'' he told the Associated Press.
A lot of these people (who tend to have big families) live in overcrowded apartments that sometimes lack electricity and even heat. The mayor complained that resettlement agencies are bringing "warm-weather'' refugees into cold climates to live.
Somalis started coming to Springfield in large numbers in 2004, pushed by federal officials who directed them to places with urban infrastructure, including mass transit (essential for many people to get to jobs). The more who live there, of course, the more who come, to be with families and friends. Most of the adults have jobs. But, of course, especially with large families, many also need social services.
A Boston Globe editorial criticized the mayor for ignoring "the moral imperative to help refugees and the benefits those refugees can bring.''
But The Globe's editorial board doesn't spend a lot of time in poor communities such as Springfield. Maybe their criticism would have more weight if they pushed for such affluent towns as Wellesley to take in Somali refugees.