Northampton’s refugee resettlement program on hold

Catholic Charities of Springfield says the soonest the refugees could resettle in Northampton is June.

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Northampton’s refugee resettlement program is on hold because of President Trump’s executive order. As of now, the earliest these refugees could resettle in Northampton is June.

51 Syrian and Iraqi refugees who had planned to resettle in Northampton are now stuck in Syria. President Trump’s executive order bans Syrian refugees indefinitely. Refugees from Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen are on hold for 120 days.

Debbie Knieriem of Northampton is troubled by the change, but understands it said, “I think he’s concerned about the safety of the United States, because of the whole terrorist mess going on.”

Renee Bautista, of Albany, New York, works with refugees for RISE Albany, to help resettle them locally. She told 22News, “They’ve already been stuck in refugee camps for years. I’m worried about their morale, I’m worried about them suffering even more.”

Catholic Charities of Springfield committed to help bring those refugees to Northampton. Executive Director Kathryn Buckley-Brawner said 18 refugees were expected between February 20th and May 20th. She said the Northampton refugee resettlement program has been temporarily suspended for 120 days. Catholic Charities plans to continue to prepare for the refugees’ arrival, strengthening training for administrators, and to continue to educate the community on who these refugees are.

Several people told me they’re afraid that the more time passes on that this ban is in effect, the more people will start fearing those who come from Muslim-dominated countries. “What color does it matter?” said Steve Jette of Leeds, arguing the president’s executive order lowers local morale. “We’re supposed to be the land of the free and the home of the brave, prove it.”

Buckley-Brawner predicts that, once the four-month ban expires, it’ll take at least another 30 days for the refugees to arrive to Northampton. There will be additional paperwork and repeated medical checks.

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