Republican governors across the country, including Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, are saying that they will not take Syrian refugees in their states. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has said, “As a city and as a country it is not our custom to turn our backs on people who are in need and who are innocent.” Mass. Congressman Seth Moulton, was the first Massachusetts politician to actually criticize Baker’s reaction, saying that “it’s a shame that the governor “doesn’t know the difference between refugees and those from whom they need refuge” and sharing his own experience of welcoming a refugee into his home. Attorney General Maura Healey and Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone both quickly followed suit. (Both Healey’s and Curtatone’s names come up often as possible challengers to Baker in 2018, as does our own Mayor Setti Warren.)
Which Massachusetts mayor is going to be next to say that his/her city will — or will not — take Syrian refugees? Will they all stay quiet or will it turn political like it has in New York/New Jersey?
Of course, it’s all a moot exercise. Mayors can’t keep refugees out of their cities any more than states can, although they could make them feel unwelcome.
Which brings me to my questions: Should Warren pipe in? And what should he say? Should Warren make it clear that Newton will welcome Syrian refugees?
Or is that not true in a city where residents don’t want to add any new people, let alone refugees from the middle east?
Note: I have a call into the mayor’s office and am awaiting a response.
Update: I spoke with Mayor Warren who said that he’s been briefed by the state department on the vetting process for Syrian refugees. He was careful to point out his respect for people’s concerns but, he said,
“We should be a welcoming country and we should be a welcoming community to people who are fleeing a war-torn country. That’s who we are.”