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Higgins Urges State Department to Reverse Plan to Cut Refugee Resettlement Agencies

Dec 12, 2018
Press Release

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Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) is calling on the U.S. Department of State to reverse plans to cut agencies that assist with the resettlement of refugees. The State Department has given notice that it intends to close some resettlement agencies and Buffalo and several other regions are cited as target areas for cuts.  Higgins spoke out against the move in a letter sent to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo earlier this week and in remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives:

“Mr. Speaker, this good and generous nation has a long tradition of welcoming those seeking refuge and a better life in America. America is, in fact, a nation of immigrants.

“For generations immigrants and refugees, my ancestors included, have contributed to a diverse and strong nation, built on the foundation that through hard work anything is possible.

“The State Department recently announced plans to cut the very programs to provide refugees with the tools toward economic independence, self-sufficiency, and success.

“It is a counterproductive move by the administration that cites the economy as a priority.

“Refugees are helping revive older communities like the Buffalo Niagara region, increasing our population, contributing to a dedicated work force, and bringing new life quality and economic life back to neighborhoods like Buffalo's west side.

“We're calling on Secretary Pompeo to immediately reverse any plans to cut resettlement agencies and affirm this nation's commitment to the American dream.”

In his letter to Secretary Pompeo Higgins writes, “Refugee resettlement agencies are critical to supporting the United States’ highest ideals of freedom and independence.  They uphold our values of compassion, leadership and self-sufficiency.  I strongly urge you to keep all of the resettlement agencies in my district open because closing them would be detrimental to the broader Western New York community and those seeking stability and safety here in the United States.”

Higgins also points out that each of the local resettlement sites – Jewish Family Service of Buffalo and Erie County, Journey’s End, Catholic Charites of Buffalo, and the International Institute of Buffalo - has its own area of expertise. 

According to federal data, in Fiscal Year 2017, 1,171 refugees with lawful permanent resident status, call the Wester New York region, categorized as the “Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls” core based statistical area of residence, home.