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Refugee resettlement agencies should remain open, advocates insist

Chris Caya WBFO News

A bipartisan group of legislators is pushing for money in the upcoming state budget to help fund refugee resettlement agencies. The $12 million plan would help keep agencies across New York open during the Trump administration's 120-day refugee ban.

PUSH Buffalo Executive Director Aaron Bartley says not only have refugees helped rebuild Buffalo's West Side, they also bring valuable wisdom to the community.
"There are people behind me here who have seen it all. Who have seen what a dictatorship looks like, and have learned how to resist those forces. And I think, as we move forward as a culture and a city, we're going to need to know more and more about that. The $12 million to me is a first step of resisting a hate-filled divisive agenda," Bartley said.

Kevin Lipomi, Owner/Vice President of Apple Imprints Apparel says, refugees are a vital part of his company's workforce.

Credit Chris Caya WBFO News
Apple Imprints Kevin Lipomi

Lipomi says, during a heavy snow storm two years ago, he was concerned about losing sales because Metro Bus stopped running.     

"In four feet of snow, all nineteen of them were waiting by the door, in the snow, until my manager got there, who was delayed because his driveway was backed up, they were there. I don't know how they made it because they didn't have bus routes. But their commitment to their work ethic I've never seen. I just was so impressed," Lipomi said.

Apple Imprints recently invested $250,000 in new equipment to expand production. And Lipomi says, without refugees to hire, the company would not have stayed in Buffalo.   

Assemblyman Sean Ryan says the plan has strong support in the Assembly and Senate because legislators across New York understand the economic boost refugees are having on Upstate's shrinking population.