Diossa expects to take “two or three” Syrian families

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (WPRI) — Central Falls is, famously, just over one square mile, with a current population of 19,416, according to the 2010 census.

That number actually won’t grow too much when the city welcomes Syrian refugees into some of its homes, the mayor said Tuesday.

Mayor James Diossa was one of 18 mayors across the country who signed a letter to President Barack Obama this week, offering to host Syrian refugees and asking the president to take in more than expected.

Tuesday, he said: “We know we don’t have the capacity to bring 100,000, but we can surely open our doors to two or three families in our city,” he said.

St. Basil’s Church in Lincoln was founded by Syrian immigrants. It’s through that church, Diossa said, his city could provide a safe haven for families trying to escape to a better life.

But how is the city supposed to pay for it?

No specific numbers have been discussed, Mayor Diossa told WPRI.com Tuesday. “Obviously Central Falls is a small community who has deep Syrian roots. I think we can offer to bring in two, three families.

“The Church has already reached out. They work with the federal government to secure funding to be able to settle these families until they get back on their feet.”

Diossa also told WPRO-AM this week he hadn’t had a financial discussion with the White House.

The latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows Central Falls already has a highly diverse population. The percentage of Central Falls residents who identify as being born outside the U.S. (39.7%) is more than three times that of the state’s percentage (13.1%).

Thousands of people leave Syria every day, fleeing the violent civil war of militants fighting a violent government crackdown.

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