Springfield, MA Somali says resettlement agencies don’t follow through

This is a complaint that is at the root of how RRW got started in the first place.  Friends and I noticed that refugees brought to Hagerstown in Western Maryland were being placed in sub-standard housing in crime-ridden neighborhoods and one local teacher said that other teachers felt compelled to find them coats for cold weather and sufficient bedding.

Calls to the resettlement agency went unanswered and consequently one sick refugee woman sent a child (who did not speak English) out to knock on doors to find help (that really blew up the situation).  Word spreads fast in a small community prompting the inevitable questions:  Why are they here?  Who brought them? And, why isn’t that group taking proper care of them?

Coincidentally,  just the other day I came across this report from Thomas Allen writing at the Social Contract about some of what happened in Hagerstown that led up to the closure of the resettlement program in my county seat in 2007 (in the wake of a public meeting!).

Ibrahim, translator Bedel Omar and Mayor Domenic Sarno at press conference Monday. Photo: David Roback / The Republican

Here is the latest from Springfield, MA where Mayor Domenic Sarno has called for a moratorium on further resettlement and plans a community meeting for tomorrow night.  From WGGB/ABC40  (hat tip: Joanne):

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Springfield mayor Domenic Sarno finds an ally in his fight to reform the refugee program.

The ally is a refugee himself.

Abdulahi Ibrahim came to Springfield from Somalia.

He says Lutheran Services helped him settle here.

But speaking through an interpreter from the East Africa Cultural Center,*** Ibrahim says there was a number of areas where he felt isolated after he got here.

One in coming to a climate he’s never seen,”We have seen a new climate, cold, snow, which we have not seen in our lives,” says Ibrahim.

Ibrahim says he even felt alone when it was time to daily chores like shopping,”We don’t know where to shop, what to shop, we don’t know the language, what we are going to buy,” says Ibrahim.

Mayor Sarno says Ibrahim came to him, thanking the mayor for bringing up many of these same issues when the mayor said he was calling for a moratorium on refugees coming into the city,”We asked them about cold weather months, whether coats are provided , they’re saying no education, transportation, social followup, health followup, they’re not there,” says Sarno.

The mayor says there needs to be accountability from the social service agencies who are bringing refugees to Springfield,”It really highlights what my people have brought to me of their non-followup,” says Sarno.

The refugee problems that have come up will be brought forward on Wednesday when Mayor Sarno meets with social service agencies.

The mayor reiterates his decision to call for a moratorium on refugees coming into the city in Springfield.

Be sure to watch the news clip.

The Somali man is an older man.   He surely gets SSI and other welfare help, and probably has no prospect of working.  Indeed remember that Massachusetts is one of the top states in the Nation where welfare pays better than working for a minimum wage.  The Wall Street Journal, reporting on a study from CATO last week, says that in Massachusetts’ welfare for a family is worth $42,515 per family (a figure which does not include the cost of educating the kids).

Editor’s note:  Just as I’m writing this post I see there is a much more detailed report at The Republican about Sarno’s surprise press conference here.  Ibrahim does have a wife and FIVE children, so he would be getting a boatload of goodies from the taxpayer.

The answer is NOT more taxpayer money for refugees and their resettlement contractors.

The logical answer to the resettlement agencies—mostly the Lutherans and Jews in Springfield—is to not bring more refugees to a town than they can do a quality job caring for.  But, here is the catch, they are paid by the head (through the US State Department and then with more grants from the Dept. of Health and Human Services) to resettle refugees.  So if they bring fewer numbers, their income drops.  The original refugee law from 1980 envisioned that the non-profits would put in substantial funding themselves, but that isn’t happening.

If you are planning to attend the meeting in Springfield tomorrow evening, please have a look at our fact sheet for some help in coming up with questions!

Photo of Bedel Omar at the website of the East Africa Cultural Center. Same man?


***Good luck finding out much about the East Africa Cultural Center in Springfield.  This is about all I see (click here).  This 2011 article says Bedel Omar was running something called the Somali Development Center which must have been transformed into the East Africa Cultural Center.

We’ve seen a lot of these ECBOs (Ethnic Community Based Organizations) which started as Somali-community organizing outfits broaden their mission and I’m guessing someone told them if they want to get federal $$$ to run their organization it needs to be broader than just for Somalis.

Here are the federal grants from ORR to ECBOs for 2012 (if you don’t believe me that our tax dollars are going to essentially encourage, not assimilation, but further ethnic division in resettlement cities.)

I haven’t written much about ECBOs lately, new readers can visit our entire category on the topic by clicking here.  Basically they are mini-ACORNS helping their people get the “services” they are entitled to and then the organization serves as a conduit for political activity, voter registration etc.

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