Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked federal officials to keep Buffalo’s four refugee agencies open Tuesday amid a dramatic drop in resettlements, arguing they are crucial to the Rust Belt city’s revitalization.
Gov. Cuomo’s letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo comes as national cuts in refugee resettlements resonate in cities like Buffalo. More than 12,000 refugees have arrived in the area in 10 years — fixing up abandoned houses, filling jobs at hotels and factories while slowing decades of population losses.
Cuomo is concerned about the threat of agency closings in Buffalo as the Trump administration’s national ceiling for refugee arrivals drops to 30,000 this fiscal year from 45,000 last year. He said each agency has its own areas of expertise and they coordinate their services.
“Refugees and the broader community will be at a distinct disadvantage if these services are no longer available,” Cuomo wrote.
There was no immediate response from the State Department on Cuomo’s letter.
The four agencies operating in Buffalo are Jewish Family Service of Buffalo and Erie County, the International Institute of Buffalo, Journey’s End and Catholic Charities of Buffalo.
International Institute executive director Eva Hassett said the four local agencies are working as a group to advocate for all four to continue operating.