BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo says Buffalo’s four refugee resettlement agencies need to stay open because they provide critical support to newcomers who are helping revitalize New York state’s second-largest city.
The Democrat makes the argument in a letter Tuesday to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, whose agency lowered the national refugee cap this year to 30,000.
With fewer refugees coming in nationwide, Cuomo says the State Department is considering reducing the number of private resettlement agencies in Buffalo. But Cuomo argues that each agency provides unique services.
More than 12,000 refugees arrived in the Buffalo area in 10 years. They have settled in empty homes, filled jobs at hotels, restaurants and factories and have helped slow decades of population losses.
There was no immediate response from the State Department.
Read the letter:
The Honorable Michael Pompeo
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Pompeo:
It is my understanding that the State Department is now considering reducing the number of refugee resettlement sites in Buffalo after the Administration’s unconscionable move to lower the refugee cap to record lows. It is critical that all four of these existing resettlement agencies are kept open to continue the essential work of welcoming refugees to our community.
These agencies have a long track record of helping to successfully integrate refugees and support the revitalization of the region. Over the past five years, more than one-third of the refugees that have resettled in New York State, or 6,298 people, have arrived in Buffalo. The resettlement agencies have helped thousands of refugees find jobs and provided the training to help refugees establish dozens of new businesses. They have also helped newly arrived children enroll in a number of Buffalo schools, adding to the diversity and richness of our educational system.
Each of these agencies has its own areas of expertise that benefit the entire community, and they work in coordination to best serve the client. For example, Jewish Family Service of Buffalo and Erie County is well known for its work with deaf refugees and survivors of torture and trauma, and Journey’s End is a recognized expert in providing legal immigration services and specialized education services to clients. Similarly, the International Institute of Buffalo provides critical services to trafficking and domestic violence victims, and Catholic Charities of Buffalo has spearheaded multiple training programs with local employers. Refugees and the broader community will be at a distinct disadvantage if these services are no longer available.
In addition, these organizations have cultivated extensive volunteer networks, including many people who welcome refugees as an expression of their faith. For example, Jewish Family Service of Buffalo works closely with the Jewish community, including multiple congregations. Catholic Charities of Buffalo and Journey’s End work with the Catholic Diocese and broader Christian community, respectively. These partnerships are consistent reminders of the depth of support for refugee welcome in Buffalo.
In New York, we welcome immigrants and refugees with open arms and we believe in the values of openness and inclusion that built this state and this nation. We are proud to serve as a home for refugees across the state who are breathing new life into their communities as members of the family of New York, and we will always stand with our immigrant communities.
I urge you to keep all of the resettlement agencies in Buffalo open to continue providing critical services to vulnerable newcomers to this country while helping fuel the economic revitalization of our communities.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
Carol O’Connell, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration
Larry Bartlett, Director of Refugee Admissions
Barbara Day, Domestic Section Chief, Refugee Admissions, Domestic Resettlement