BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Over the past year, 1,500 refugees, mostly Burmese and Somalian, have settled for the first time in Erie County.
It was one of the facts that came to light in an informational meeting Thursday. Erie County Legislature Majority Leader, Joseph Lorigo called together experts of the local Refugee Resettlement Program. After the terrorist attacks in Paris last month, Lorigo has been concerned about how many refugees have been coming into Western New York.
Some of that concern surrounded Syrian refugees, but it turns out that only two Syrian refugee families settled in Erie County over the past year, and two more are slated to come next year.
“Refugees are creating positive press for our region,” said International Institute of Buffalo Executive Director, Eva Hassett. “Western new York has become and continues to be shown nationally and globally as a community that supports and is successful at integrating refugees and realizing the community and economic impact that they bring.”
Hassett stresses that less than one percent of all refugees even have the chance to settle in the United States, and only then after rigorous federal security checks.
Although many refugees buy homes and start businesses here, Lorigo is critical of the fact that some of them require assistance from Social Services.
“One of the most important things we learned today is that roughly seven percent of the population receiving Social Services in Erie County are non-US citizens, and I think that’s a shocking number. That’s a concern.”
Lorigo admits there’s not much that he can do on the County level to stop the flow of refugees, but he plans to reach out to Federal officials to find out more about what calls the ‘true cost’ of the Refugee Resettlement Program.