OUR VIEW: Celebrate World Refugee Day Saturday at City Hall

June 16, 2017. An editorial featured in the Observer-Dispatch cited FPI’s and the Center for American Progress’s co-released report, “Refugee Integration in the United States.” The op-ed is not only an invitation to celebrate World Refugee Day with those in Utica, but it also discusses how Utica is a city that refugees have helped rebuild by contributing to the local economy and tax rolls and reversing population decline.

There is little question that refugees are making significant contributions to our communities across the nation – Utica included. A report last year by the Center for American Progress and the Fiscal Policy Institute examined workforce and integration trends for Somali, Burmese, Hmong and Bosnian refugees and found that:

– Burmese and Bosnian refugees who have been here for more than 10 years are more likely to own their own home than the average U.S.-born citizen.

– Refugees start and own businesses at a rate close to the average for U.S.-born people, in some cases. Thirty-one out of every 1,000 working Bosnian refugees are business owners, for example – equal to the average of U.S.-born people.

– After 10 years in the U.S., 86 percent of Somalis speak English “well” and 61 percent speak it “very well.”

The report mentioned Utica quite frequently, noting that both Bosnian and Burmese refugees are playing a significant part in the revitalization of the city. Bosnians make up 16 percent of all immigrants in metropolitan Utica, and Burmese make up 13 percent. It was further noted that refugees brought new entrepreneurial activity to Utica, filled about half of the labor force needs of a local medical equipment manufacturer, and “revitalized declining neighborhoods, buying and renovating vacant housing.”

Here is the link to the Observer-Dispatch.