Where in New Bedford Will Mitchell’s Refugees Live? [OPINION]
Mayor Jon Mitchell was quite vague in announcing his plans to resettle refugees in New Bedford. Mitchell dropped the news while guesting on The Phil Paleologos Show on WBSM on Tuesday. Let me just say that nothing comes out of Mitchell's tight-lipped administration that is not scripted and timed precisely.
Mitchell began by saying that he expected a number of Afghan families would be placed in New Bedford. "We've been working for several months to open up New Bedford more to refugees, and in particular Afghan refugees," he told Paleologos. "If you or your family assisted American forces in Afghanistan and now are seeking refuge here in the United States, you're welcome in my city."
The Afghan refugee crisis is only weeks old, indicating Mitchell's plan predates the crisis created by his good pal "Sleepy" Joe Biden. Mitchell said that the city is working with a "very reputable" nonprofit to place an as-yet unknown number of refugees here, although he did not say which organization. Which other refugees has Mitchell been working to place here? He wasn't very clear about that, either.
How do you come out against refugee resettlement without sounding like an elitist snob? But I have just a few questions for Mitchell about his refugee resettlement plan:
Where will these refugees live? Isn't there already a severe shortage of housing in New Bedford? Are there not already homeless veterans sleeping under highway bridges?
How will they be educated? Is the New Bedford school system already falling short of meeting state spending requirements?
Where will they work? Is there not already a shortage of low-skilled and entry-level jobs now?
What type of benefits will they require? Will taxpayers, already burdened with excessive property taxes foot the bill?
Will they be properly vetted and immunized?
New Bedford has trouble coping with a growing homeless population already, many of whom relieve themselves and openly use drugs in the streets downtown. Massachusetts has among the highest rate of illegal immigration in the nation, many of those illegals are in New Bedford putting a strain on already limited local resources. Perhaps Mitchell should deal with the issues at hand before welcoming more folks in need to the city.
It's nice that Mayor Mitchell thinks of New Bedford as "my city" but it is actually home to some 102,000 people. Shouldn't Mitchell have asked for input from city residents before laying out the welcome mat?
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.