Big drop in refugees resettling in Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - The International Institute of Buffalo says it is seeing "dramatic decline" in the number of refugees being resettled in Buffalo.  According to the Institute, it resettled 102 refugees in January 2016, 92 refugees in January 2017, and only 26 refugees in January 2018.

Falling numbers correspond with the Trump Administration's efforts to cut back on the number of refugees allowed to come into the United States.  Over the past year, those numbers were reduced from 110,000 to 45,000.

"Refugees relocated to Buffalo have contributed greatly to our region's economic rebirth. The slashing of admission of legal refugees to our country does not make America greater. We are a better and stronger country because of our diversity," said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, who posted comments on Twitter and Facebook.

While the political debate about refugees will continue, many believe the influx of refugees helped stabilize Buffalo with its declining population.  Refugee resettlement in Buffalo's West Side is being credited with bringing new life to an area that was in serious decline ten years ago.

A non-profit group called WEDI (Westminster Economic Development Initiative) has worked to help refugees learn what it takes to start a business in WNY.  The group also operates a business incubator site called The West Side Bazaar which allows refugee business people to learn while doing.

Executive Director Benjamin Bissell said he is disappointed in the refugee reduction because refugees in Buffalo have shown they can rejuvenate failing neighborhoods.

7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly has more in his report including talking with a refugee family from Burma/Thailand that just recently opened a restaurant in Buffalo.

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