Local Advocates Urge President to Reverse Reported Intent to Virtually Shut Down Refugee Admissions

Ending refugee resettlement in Buffalo would be damaging to families, the recovering economy

Leaders of local immigration and resettlement organizations led the call this afternoon for Trump administration officials to reverse its apparent proposal to virtually shut down the refugee resettlement program in Fiscal Year 2020, at a time when the world faces its worst refugee crisis in history. A total of 1.4 million refugees are in need of resettlement globally and 40,000 of those already are approved for resettlement in the United States. 

Representatives of the New York Immigration Coalition and the Western New York Refugee and Asylee Coalition (composed of Catholic Charities of Buffalo, International Institute of Buffalo, Jericho Road Community Health Center, Jewish Family Service of Buffalo and Erie County, and Journey’s End Refugee Services) spoke to the many concerns for refugees, our Buffalo community, and our world if the program is stopped. Also joining the leaders in speaking out against a decimation of the refugee program were resettled refugees awaiting other family members to be resettled, and other community, business and faith leaders, as well as elected officials.  

A report yesterday indicated that some Trump officials propose setting a cap at zero for next year while other officials recommend between 3,000 and 10,000 refugee admissions. While the historic average for the U.S. resettlement program is 95,000 admissions each year, the President cut the number to 45,000 in FY 2018. Despite capacity and the bipartisan program’s 40-year legacy of resettling a total of nearly 3 million refugees since 1980, the President again cut the program in FY 2019 to one-third, or 30,000. Since 2016, the program has been reduced by 80%. The potential plan to reduce the influx of vetted refugees to critical levels was reported last night (July 18) at politico.com.

Resettlement and immigration leaders indicated that, as of July 2, a total of 8,819 refugees are approved to travel to the United States and another 29,362 refugees have passed their United States Citizenship and Immigration Services interview. In addition to those waiting to enter the United States from this group, many families settled in Buffalo and cities across the country are awaiting those family members to join them. Finally, leaders spoke of the impact on the community of Buffalo, which has benefited from the influx of refugees in recent years, contributing significantly to the area’s economic recovery and revitalization of the city’s West Side.