Funding Will Help Such Organizations Continue Integration Efforts Despite Potential for
Suspension of Federal Resettlement Programs; Griffo, Brindisi Sought Additional Funding to Cover Any Lost Revenue, and to Enhance Existing State Funding For Refugee Services
Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi of Utica and State Senator Joseph Griffo of Rome have secured $2 million in the 2017-2018 State Budget to help support the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees, and other upstate New York agencies that face potential cuts in funding, if any federal restrictions on refugee resettlement takes effect.
The Refugee Center’s concerns began earlier this year following federal efforts to temporarily suspend refugee resettlement into the United States in order to assess and improve national vetting procedures. Federal courts have blocked two attempts so far to suspend refugee resettlement, but this uncertainty has created financial challenges for agencies like the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees in Utica.
In 2016, 411 refugees resettled in Oneida County, which was almost twice the number that settled in New York City. The counties of Erie, Onondaga, Monroe, Albany, and Broome Counties also were significant resettlement areas of the state.
“Without refugees coming to our region, Utica would be a city facing population loss instead of the population gain we are seeing,” Brindisi said. “This funding will assist refugees with transition services, putting them on the path to pursuing the American dream. Refugees have been a very significant part of the success story of Utica and the Mohawk Valley.
“Their efforts to find employment, purchase and renovate homes, and pay taxes has been a significant reason for the economic revitalization of Utica. They should be able to continue making a better life in our region, because their success is something we can all be proud of.”
“Utica and the Mohawk Valley have long been a beacon of hope for those refugees fleeing violence in their homelands, and for generations we have always welcomed these families with open arms,” Griffo said. “Refugees have brought cultural diversity and awareness to our region, and they have reinvigorated our neighborhoods and local economy in ways that continue to make Utica stronger.
“Our refugees would not be able to achieve newfound stability in our communities without the support of the Mohawk Valley Resource Center, and this funding will help ensure that their staff has the resources it needs to guide these individuals into lives of independence.”
“This funding will allow MVRCR to provide refugees with the services they need to facilitate integration and achieve economic self-sufficiency, benefiting both refugees and their new communities,” said Shelly Callahan, executive director, MVRCR. “Both Assemblyman Brindisi and Senator Griffo were instrumental in introducing the legislation in support of statewide refugee programs and getting it passed in the final budget.
“In light of current budget challenges, and uncertainty over short-term disruptions and possible travel bans, this legislation supports refugees and the communities that welcome them throughout New York at a most critical time. Thank you, Assemblyman Brindisi and Senator Griffo for fighting for refugees and the Mohawk Valley.”