NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – This is a story 22news has been closely following since Monday night. Refugees are coming to Northampton but the planning is just getting started.
51 refugees, not all of them Syrian, are coming to Northampton. It was the second public meeting to discuss the relocation of 51 refugees from Syria, Burundi and the Congo. Most people we talked to supported the move. Hundreds have signed up to help catholic charities help them begin the simple tasks of life in a new country.
Basileus Zeno, originally from Syria said, “I can give them my personal experience. For example the first simple thing. I didn’t know how the credit card worked. This is very simple. Usually we are taking that for granted.”
David Narkewicz said, “We have an organization called the center for new Americans which works with refugees and immigrants now, that’s what they do, they work with them on English language skills, they works with them on job training skills, they help them get on a path to applying for citizenship.”
But some people had concerns.
Kevin Rubeck, of Haydenville told 22News, “I just wonder about how much they check about their background. I know a lot of people who get jobs have to get CORI checks. To what extent do they do that?”
Catholic charities and Northampton’s mayor say the refugees have been granted official refugee status and were extensively vetted. No one could say for sure that they don’t have a criminal background.
Kathryn Buckley-Brawner, executive director of catholic charities said, “The best knowledge that we have comes from the state department. The department of homeland security, the FBI and USCIS. All of those agencies are involved in that rather rigorous vetting process that takes place before they are even approved to come here. We are taking their word.”
Northampton’s city council adopted a resolution in 2015 saying they would welcome refugees. The refugee act of 1980 says cities and town can’t legally block resettlement but they can refuse to cooperate.