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Cuomo urging State Department maintain Buffalo refugee agencies

Chris Thomas

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has written a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, asking the State Department to maintain refugee resettlement sites in Buffalo.

Cuomo says Buffalo's four refugee resettlement agencies need to stay open because they provide critical support to newcomers who are helping revitalize the state's second-largest city.

"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," Cuomo said. "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."

Cuomo says refugees and the broader community will be at a distinct disadvantage if these services are no longer available.

Pompeo's 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.

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.

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