Upstate New York Cities Welcome Refugees and Immigrants – Some Media Stories

Last updated April 26, 2017. During these times where executive orders from Washington are not promoting a welcoming climate for immigrants, refugees and asylees, cities in upstate New York choose to do the opposite. Upstate cities are topics in many newspapers that highlight their welcoming, supportive and caring attitudes and actions toward refugees and immigrants. The news articles listed below illustrate how cities such as Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse and Utica help, welcome and support, their refugee friends, neighbors and community members and embrace their city’s diversity.


imageWest Hill a Refugee Haven: Nonprofit Organization Helping to Revive Area

By Amanda Fries– Albany Times Union

“The nonprofit organization helps families find housing and jobs and offers English classes and guidance on financial management.

While Doherty offers housing to refugees, he also helps fill out paperwork, drives the families to doctor’s appointments and English classes and teaches them how to drive.

‘Without them, this would be a far different city and we would be having a completely different conversation,’ she said. ‘I don’t think you’d see the economic revitalization that is going on now without refugees coming here and making this place their home for the last 36 years.’”

Refugees Still Welcomed in the Capital Region

Albany Times Union (January 30, 2017)

“‘Since the rhetoric during the campaign of Mr. Trump, which has just ramped up things quite a bit, if anything we have gotten more and more people who say, ‘how can we help?’ Dahlia Herring, 69, Co-Chair of CRRR, said recently. ‘This city prides itself in being a welcoming city for all newcomers.’

One of the biggest challenges that refugees face is the language barrier. Many of them will arrive in the United States without having been taught even rudimentary English, Herring said.  The volunteers work hard to make sure that young people learn English quickly and become part of the regular school system.”

Albany school for immigrant, refugee children could open this fallAlbany School for Immigrant, Refugee Children Could Open This Fall

By Bethany Bump – Albany Times Union (February 19, 2017)

“The state passed new regulations in 2014 requiring school districts to create bilingual programs for any language that’s spoken by 20 or more students in a single grade level. That was a big ask for a district like Albany, where students speak a collective 57 languages, said Thomas Giglio, director of the district’s English as New Language and Refugee Services.

But the language barrier, along with the social and emotional baggage many students carry, can be a serious hurdle to academic achievement.

Giglio’s hope is that a permanent newcomer academy in Albany would help students adjust to their new environment while gaining enough language skills to follow along once they return to their assigned school. Families would also be kept together, with siblings of different ages able to attend the same school upon arrival to their new country.”

Refugees Find Hope Through RISSE in Pine Hills

By Elizabeth Valentin – The Chronicle (March 1, 2017)

“Several refugees share the same fear of being sent back to their country, and as a result are afraid of law enforcement. In order to combat this, the Albany Police Department is beginning to work with RISSE to have meetings between refugees and police officers to break barriers and lessen their fears.

‘They need help, we are human beings. I understand for security purposes, but the administration has to help them, not exclude them,’ said Francis Sengabo, co-founder of RISSE, regarding the attitude that the current administration has towards refugees.

“Filkins is proud of her staff and the efforts that they put into helping the refugees that go to them. ‘The staff is passionate about their work because the children come from families that have gone through so much, so it’s not just academics. Everyone tries to provide love and care,’ said Filkins.”

Community Rallies to Support Local Undocumented Immigrant

By WRGB Staff – WRGB Albany (March 8, 2017)

“A local undocumented immigrant is back home Wednesday after her monthly meeting with customs officials that this time drew dozens of people to the same building rallying on her behalf.”

Bringing Neighbors Together

By Kate Pierce – Albany Times Union (March 20, 2017)

“‘Given what’s going on in the news, we know that people are scared,” said Keefe. “We want them to know that they are welcome and wanted here.’

This year the crafts portion of the dinner will consist of making and decorating ‘Welcome’ signs for refugees and refugee families who are living in the community.

‘As neighbors we can do a lot to help each other,’ said Junjulas.”

Refugee Children Find Safety Through Summer Camps

By Seriah Sargenton – Albany Times Union (March 29, 2017)

“During a time when the government is trying to limit the number of refugees entering the country, assistance programs in Albany are helping newcomers feel right at home – including Refugees for Camp.

Refugees for Camp is a program aimed to help refugee children have an unforgettable summer experience at different camps in the northeast between two and seven weeks. At these camps children participate in swimming, hiking, sports, canoeing, and other activities that help improve their communication skills and experience what childhood truly means.

‘Many kids have attended who were unsure about what to expect. Many were quiet, shy, and spoke little English. They blossomed into confident English speaking children over the course of the summer. Ninety-Five percent return to the camp every year,’ said Laura Amedio, director of the Refugees for Camp.

The camp acts as a stepping stone into the future for many of the children. One former camper used the opportunity to better himself and his future.

Refugees for Camp continues to act as a guide for young children and teens to learn about the world in a positive light with the help of understanding volunteers who want to see them grow up in a world where they are accepted.”

Immigration activists rallied outside the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement building Monday morning to support a Herkimer County man facing deportation.Immigration Activists Rally Around Herkimer County Man

By Emily Masters – The Hour (April 3, 2017)

“Immigration activists rallied outside the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement building Monday morning to support a Herkimer County man facing deportation.

Morgan is the father of three children and five step-children, all U.S. citizens, as is his wife.

Morgan is the primary caregiver for his youngest son and supports another son, a leukemia survivor who has Down syndrome, his wife said.

Protesters started rallying at 9:30 a.m.

‘We are calling on ICE to remove Ricky from their deportation priorities and to keep his family together,’ Joe Paparone, an organizer for New Sanctuary for Immigrants of the Capital Region, said before the morning rally'”

State Aid Boosts New Albany School Programs Without Tax Increase

By Bethany bump – Times Union (April 13, 2017)

“In addition to maintaining existing programs and staffing, the budget provides funding for several new initiatives, including the following:

Newcomer program: A voluntary, two-year program will open at North Albany Academy for students in grades 7-12 who are new to the country and just learning English. The goal is to familiarize students with local and national customs and routines while also providing intensive literacy instruction before returning the students to their home schools.”


Editorial: Burmese Refugees Are Making New Lives in Buffalo Thanks to Selfless Strangers

By News Editorial Board – The Buffalo News (December 23, 2016)

“The spirit of Christmas is thriving in Buffalo. Joyous, selfless and unbounded, that spirit breathes in the affection that Western New Yorkers have showered on the Burmese refugees who are making new homes in this city.

These are people who go out of their way to help, befriending people who are often isolated by language and unfamiliarity. They make a profound difference in the lives of these uncertain new residents and demonstrate that the Christmas spirit is not a seasonal affectation.

They come from all parts of Buffalo life: doctors, teachers, police officers, churchgoers. They are givers, seeking nothing more than to offer a hand where a hand is desperately needed.”

RefugeesWelcomeBuffalo Shows Support for Refugees

By Erica Brecher  – (February 4, 2017)

“Starting at Niagara Square, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown raised a new flag in front of City Hall. It reads, ‘refugees welcome.’

Then over at Jericho Road Community Center, lawyers, volunteering their time, met with dozens of local immigrants and refugees to help fill them in on the changing laws and make sure they had the knowledge to protect themselves at a “Know Your Rights” Open House.”

 2,000 Rally at Columbus Park in Solidarity With Immigrants, Refugees

The Buffalo News (February 5, 2017)

“‘We’re standing up for immigrants’ rights,” said Meghan Maloney De Zaldivar, senior associate for regional outreach for the New York Immigration Coalition, and one of the event’s organizers. “Immigrants’ rights doesn’t mean just refugees or just undocumented people. We are all under attack and we are all being dehumanized by this administration.’

One of the rally’s goals was to demonstrate that the future of Buffalo’s culture and economy depends partly on its immigrant communities, said Maloney De Zaldivar.”

Thousands rally in support of refugees and immigrants in BuffaloThousands Rally in Support of Refugees And Immigrants in Buffalo

By Callan Gray – WIVB 4 (February 5, 2017)

“They held signs saying phrases like ‘Refugees welcome in the city of good neighbors.’

‘To see these beautiful people that came here to support us, I know they didn’t have to come here but [they did] even in this cold, this is overwhelming for me, I’m overwhelmed,’ said Ali Alhobabi, an American citizen originally from Yemen.”


A Surprising Salve for New York’s Beleaguered Cities: RefugeesA Surprising Salve for New York’s Beleaguered Cities: Refugees

By Jesse McKinley– The New York Times (February 20, 2017)

“While President Trump has cast incoming refugees in a sinister light, the influx into the beleaguered communities along New York’s old Erie Canal has been a surprising salve for decades of dwindling population and opportunity.

‘One of the reasons that Buffalo is growing, that Buffalo is getting stronger, that Buffalo is getting better, is because of the presence of our immigrant and our refugee community,’ Mayor Byron W. Brown, a Democrat, told several hundred recent arrivals at a town-hall meeting in early February.

Reassuring refugees and immigrants that they are wanted here was a principal purpose of a recent “Know Your Rights” event held at Jericho Road Community Health Center in Buffalo, which offers health care for immigrants.

Inside, several hundred new and more established arrivals packed the room, which was also filled with volunteer lawyers; one table was arrayed with a row of pocket copies of the Constitution. Translators created a babble of languages as officials spoke of solidarity and support in wake of the presidential order.

‘But that flag, so far, has withstood that wind,’ the mayor said. ‘Just like all of us are going to withstand what is coming out of Washington right now.'”

Viewpoints: Refugees Are Powering Buffalo’s Revitalization

By David Dyssegaard Kallick and Eva Hassett – The Buffalo News (March 2, 2017)

“But make no mistake, refugee resettlement is also very good for Buffalo’s economy, and that of other cities in upstate New York. Which means it is good for all of us.

Start with the basics. The biggest challenge facing Buffalo is population decline. In 1950, Buffalo had 578,000 residents. In 2015, the population was 283,000, less than half that number. That means empty and deteriorating houses, schools and shops; lower tax revenues to support infrastructure; and fewer working-age residents to support job growth.

Buffalo has a great reputation as a welcoming place for refugees and immigrants. As a result, the city attracts “secondary migrants” from elsewhere in the U.S. on top of those who arrive directly. Buffalo has a critical opportunity to capitalize on this reputation – but only if we have the ability to help those who want to come and succeed here.

So, by all means, when you think of refugee resettlement, think first about the humanitarian good it does and how it figures into your life, maybe even into your own family history. But don’t underestimate the important role refugees play in boosting the local economy. If it’s not your first thought about refugees in Buffalo, there’s a good reason it should be your second.”

Letter: Immigrants, refugees greatly benefit region

By Rebecca Hyde – The Buffalo News (March 10, 2017)

“Regarding the Sunday Viewpoints article about refugees, by David Dyssegaard Kallick and Eva Hassett: I hope many people read it and heard the message, that refugees are good for the Buffalo and Western New York economies. We, as Americans, are shooting ourselves in the foot by making it more difficult for immigrants and refugees to come here.

Personally, my family has welcomed people of different cultures into our home for many years – not because it was good for our household’s bottom line, but because it was a joy to learn about them and their cultures. Let’s continue to welcome refugees and immigrants to Western New York because it’s good for our economy and good for our souls.”

Members of the Western New York Yemeni community rally in support of the communities affected by President Trump's new travel ban during an event at St. Anthony's Church Hall in Lackawanna, Friday, March 10, 2017. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)Interfaith Rally Protests Trump Immigration Policy, Yemen Travel Ban

By Henry L. Davis – The Buffalo News (March 10, 2017)

“More than 100 people gathered in Lackawanna on Friday, holding American flags and signs protesting President Trump’s immigration and refugee policies.

The event, which brought together a host of community, political and faith leaders, aimed to show support for those affected by the administration’s revised travel ban.

‘Presidents are traditionally a source of calm and leadership that we are sorely missing today. We have a Republican president betraying that tradition,’ said Qazi, who contrasted Trump with President George W. Bush, saying Bush made clear after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 that Muslims are an integral part of U.S. society and that the terrorist act had nothing to do with the religion of Islam.

‘If the president of the United States is not going to say these things,” he said. “Then we need to send that message to him.’”

Support Stitch Buffalo

By Buffalo Rising (March 16, 2017)

“The goal of Stitch Buffalo is to bring people together who have a passion for creating beautiful and useful embroidery, beading and weaving projects. The participants involved with this project are refugees who hail from various war-torn countries. Stitch Buffalo offers these people the ability to work with textiles, similar to what they might be accustomed to handling in their home countries. Not only does this incredible program draw together people to create practical items, it also offers them a way to make some money of the side.”

Iranian New Year celebration to welcome refugees, immigrant families Iranian New Year Celebration to Welcome Refugees, Immigrant Families

By Bert Gambini – UB Now (March 20, 2017)

“During this era of social unrest, fear and anxiety, we want to create events that are celebratory and community-building that help people connect more with a sense of friendship, joy, music, dance and food as a way of building resilience,” says Kari Winter, professor of transnational studies and director of the Gender Institute.

The professional women in the group also have taken turns hosting dinner meetings in their homes and have been collecting new and used items for donation to those in need.”

Mayor Brown Recognizes Immigrants And Refugees – Looks to Empower WEDI

By Buffalo Rising (March 21, 2017)

“Mayor Brown has been sending signals loud and clear that immigrants and refugees are welcome in Buffalo. That’s why it’s no surprise that he proclaimed today, March 21, as Conference of Mayor’s National Day of Immigration in Buffalo. By doing so, Mayor Brown is not only acknowledging all of the accomplishments that immigrants have made that benefit Buffalo, he’s also forecasting all of the great things to come.

‘Through this grant program, WEDI could receive up to $300,000 in grant funding to support expansion of the West Side Bazaar. WEDI was instrumental in sowing the seeds for what has become an incredibly successful business incubator and market place showcasing entrepreneurs from Buffalo’s growing immigrant and refugee communities,’ Mayor Brown said. ‘We whole-heartedly back WEDI’s effort to expand this venture which creates new businesses, new jobs and builds on Buffalo’s efforts to stabilize neighborhoods and grow its economy city-wide,’ Mayor Brown said.”

New Public Access Channel Proposed for Buffalo’s Immigrants, Refugees

By Deidre Williams – The Buffalo News (March 24, 2017)

“The new channel being proposed would be a forum on which newcomers could post their own information while also being able to access general information in their own languages, such as Burmese, Karen, Nepali or any of the other 80 languages now spoken in Buffalo.

‘Our needs have changed. So why don’t we ask for a channel for that purpose?’ Fontana said. ‘We can have shows on how to deal with the police; how to call for help; what to do with your money instead of hiding it at home. Good information can be given out to refugees.’”

Local Center Takes Holistic Approach to Help Refugee Survivors of Trauma, Torture

By News Editorial Board – The Buffalo News (March 26, 2017)

“The goal is to provide medical, legal and social service assistance to a group of refugees Griswold and others believe was falling through the safety net.

At the center, doctors treat refugees on a pro bono basis, lawyers help with their immigration cases and care coordinators assist with housing and other social service needs.

Not surprisingly, many are former refugees themselves.”

Ugandan Refugee Finds Sense of Belonging, A Future in Buffalo

By Georgina Hallowell & Daniel Carapetyan – The Record (April 3, 2017)

“As Mayor Byron Brown said in January, Buffalo is a refugee resettlement city. These people traveled across the world to join a community they can call home, and these programs make sure to foster a sense of belonging, Regan said.

‘It’s very important to feel comfortable at home and to not feel threatened. A lot of our students have post-traumatic stress disorder – they’ve come from war-torn countries, been through a lot of trauma, so we try to create an environment where they feel safe and wanted,’ Regan said.

Catholic Charities offers an eight-week cultural orientation class called ‘Newcomer” where students learn how to navigate the city and get adjusted before they transition into ESL classes.

The name Ygeutte means, ‘found,’ in Swahili. True to her name, she has found not only a home, but a potential future.”

Immigrant’s Journey From Civil War in Lebanon to College President in Buffalo

By  – The Buffalo News (April 9, 2017)

“Deeb climbed to the top rung of higher education leadership in 2012 when he was named president of Trocaire College. But decades earlier, he fled civil war in his native Lebanon and resettled with his family in Buffalo. Deeb was 15 at the time and spoke no English.

‘We established a life and part of it is this is a community that was very welcoming to people like us, because the makeup of this community is people like us. And, you know, I’m forever grateful for that,’ he said.

Deeb hopes new refugees to Buffalo and other parts of the country continue to get the kinds of opportunities he received.”

Public Access Channel Proposed to Help Refugees and Immigrants

By Paola Suro – WKBW Buffalo (April 2, 2017)

“Buffalo Common Council Member Rasheed Wyatt proposed a public access channel for refugees and immigrants. The channel would offer information and services in different languages.

Wyatt says the City would work with the immigrant and refugee communities to train them on how to develop shows in their own language. He says this would be helpful for different issues, including how to deal with police.

‘They could receive information in their dialect, to be able to adapt and maneuver through the City and through this area,’ said Wyatt.”

Refugee activists honored as Holocaust ceremony affirms bondsRefugee Activists Honored as Holocaust Ceremony Affirms Bonds

By Thomas J. Prohaska – The Buffalo News (April 23, 2017)

“Memories of the Holocaust were combined with concern for today’s refugees and immigrants during an annual Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony Sunday.

Erie County Family Court Judge Lisa Bloch Rodwin, the keynote speaker, said the experiences of Jewish people throughout history, from the Exodus from Egypt to Nazi Germany, demonstrate that Jews should be sympathetic to immigrants and refugees.

“Compassion for the stranger is mentioned dozens of times in the Torah, and almost every time, the rationale is given as well,” the judge said. “Be kind, because you know their experience.”

Health Fair For Refugees To Take Place Wednesday

The Buffalo News (April 25, 2017)

“Buffalo area refugees will receive free routine health screenings from  physician assistant students and faculty at the third annual Daemen College Refugee Health Fair…

Daemen nursing students also will provide health-related information relevant to the refugee population, including immunizations, navigating the local health system, prescription medications vs. herbal remedies, and winter preparedness and health issues.”



Volunteers to Make Cards for Rochester Refugee Children

By Justin Murphy – Democrat & Chronicle (January 13, 2017)

“People will gather Saturday afternoon at the Islamic Center of Rochester to write letters and cards to refugee children to assure them they are welcome in Rochester.”

Hundreds Rally in Rochester For Refugees

By David Andreatta – Democrat & Chronicle (January 29, 2017)

“Braving freezing temperatures and a stiff wind, people held signs that read, “We Defend Refugees,” and chanted “No ban, no wall, my America is for all,” between speakers who used a microphone set on a makeshift stage to get their message out.”

‘Today, non-Muslims are showing Muslims what mercy is all about,’ said Sareer Fazili, president of the Islamic Center of Rochester. ‘This is one of the most humbling occurrences for our community.’

His words resonated for Alison Parker of Rochester, who held a sign that read, ‘We Are All Muslims Now.’”

Backing, backlash over Trump refugee banBacking, Backlash Over Trump Refugee Ban

By – Daily Messenger (January 31, 2017)

“The Catholic Family Center, the sponsoring agency for all refugees resettled in Rochester, released a response to the order: ‘We at CFC see first-hand how our community is enhanced by the arrival of our newest Americans who come seeking peace and opportunity and through their diversity bring new color to the fabric of our community.’

Ian said that although most high school students have not reached voting age, ‘we are citizens and we want to make a difference, to make our voices heard.’

Ian said he is disturbed by the innocent people who will be affected, “those who are trying to escape from persecution and war.'”

Rally on Steps of Rochester City Hall, Protesters Riled By Executive Orders

By Tara Grimes – Spectrum News (February 3, 2017)

“‘I think that the executive order is full of hate and misguided information,’ Spencerport resident Ellen Robillard said. ‘It’s building fear, it’s not doing us any good. I’m also disturbed about the threat of taking away federal funding for sanctuary cities. We need to stand on the side of what’s right, no matter what.’

Carter Schum, 10, said he supports sanctuary cities and is here to back his friends who are refugees.

‘It’s exciting,” Abukar said. “It’s an eye-opener because I knew realized Rochester has so much support for immigrants and refugees.'”

‘Finding Home’ art program spotlights refugees‘Finding Home’ Art Program Spotlights Refugees

By Rebecca Rafferty – City Newspaper (March 15, 2017)

“Amid news this last weekend of a second bomb threat to the Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester — and the third case of anti-Semitic hostility in Rochester in recent weeks — Deborah Haber is pushing onward to finalize plans for a series of arts events that will be held this month at the JCC and Nazareth College. “Finding Home: Shine the Light” is a multi-media community show exploring refugee displacement and the search for home. Sadly ever-relevant, the project spotlights different groups that have been displaced and the struggle to start over in new, often hostile places.

Haber says that while the intimidation is shocking, support for the Jewish community is becoming even stronger. ‘People are rallying around not only our JCC, but also JCCs around the country,’ she says.”

Protest Demands Freedom for Farmworker

By Gene Clancy – Workers World (March 16, 2017)

“On March 9, nearly 200 people braved the aftermath of a violent windstorm to demand freedom and justice for José Coyote Pérez, an immigrant farmworker in the Rochester area.

The rally in Rochester concluded with a militant march from the site of the demonstration to a nearby office of the U.S. Border Patrol.”

Two Immigration Protests in Last 24 Hours

By Jennifer Lee – WHAM (March 24, 2017)

“Overnight, protesters gathered outside Customs and Border Protection in Irondequoit after a woman and her 12-year-old brother from Guatemala were detained.

‘We are a country of immigrants, and we’ve forgotten that. We need to stand up with these people and their rights and make sure we’re doing the right thing by them,’ said Ted Howard, demonstrator.”

Area Religious Leaders Strive For Diversity

By Sarah Taddeo – Democrat & Chronicle (April 14, 2017)

“‘The only way that churches really grow authentically is through relationships,’ she said. Relationships don’t happen by sitting in a pew for an hour — they happen in neighborhoods, social gatherings and workplaces.

‘(Multi-language content) is an integral part of our ministry,  and there is a need in the community for it,’ said Sotomayor, who’s also a sergeant with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

The church, situated along what used to be the Inner Loop, draws suburbanites, city dwellers and refugees to its two services. One service is conducted in Kinyarwanda, the language of a sizable contingent of refugees from several African countries who attend on Sundays.

Forty area congregations host or support families on a rotating basis, providing meals and lodging for the night. The majority are in the city, but a portion are in the suburbs.”

Rochester Takes Startup Approach to Worker CooperativesRochester Takes Startup Approach to Worker Cooperatives

By Deonna Anderson – Next City (April 25, 2017)

“A new nonprofit with a goal to support the creation of more worker cooperatives in Rochester, New York, touted its first achievement in April. The nonprofit, the Market Driven Community Corporation (MDCC), announced that a brand-new cooperative, ENEROC, landed a deal to install LED lighting at Rochester General Hospital.

‘Creating accessible jobs within our city strengthens our neighborhoods and provides greater opportunities for all its residents,’ said Mayor Lovely A. Warren in a press release about the news. ‘The Market Driven Community Corporation enhances this aim by launching cooperatives like ENEROC that empower our residents to eventually become worker-owners of a competitive business.’

Melissa Marquez, CEO of Genesee Co-Op Credit Union and an MDCC board member, says she hopes MDCC and startups like ENEROC will help her credit union members and their families, many of whom are people of color, immigrants and refugees, by opening up long-term career paths. Many are also temporary workers.”


Human Rights Task Force Forming in Saratoga Springs

By Ned Campbell – The Daily Gazette (March 24, 2017)

“With this in mind, and as fear of deportation spreads among immigrants, the mayor is launching a Human Rights Task Force to provide education, programming and a place for the city’s various human rights groups, which have been popping up in the days before and after the election of President Donald Trump, to collaborate.

‘Our mission is to serve and protect the residents and visitors of Saratoga Springs, regardless of their immigration status,’ he said.”


Residents Pushing For Schenectady To Be Sanctuary City

By Paul Nelson – Times Union (March 31, 2017)

“Esat is among a small group of people, some of whom have attended recent City Council meetings, trying to convince city leaders to declare Schenectady a sanctuary city. Such communities try to shield undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Jamaica Miles, an activist who lives in Schenectady, said she and other city residents want to ensure city police are not cooperating with federal agencies to arrest or detain immigrants. She said they want the city to disavow President Donald Trump’s comments equating immigrants, refugees and Muslims to terrorists.

Miles said the group is circulating petitions in houses of worships to build support and working with the Clergy Against Hate and an immigrant advocacy group.

‘The strategy is to continue to educate the community at large, grow our base of supporters, and ensure those marginalized groups who are already living in fear are able recognize there are people who are speaking out on their behalf but also welcoming them to a safe place,’ Miles said.”

Union students, faculty rally for ‘dignity and respect’ for immigrantsUnion Students, Faculty Rally for ‘Dignity and Respect’ for Immigrants

By Zachary Matson – The Daily Gazette (April 19, 2017)

“‘I am not a bad hombre but a hardworking student who just wants to pursue the American Dream,’ said Cortes, who immigrated from Mexico as a 6-year-old.

Cortes joined around 40 Union students and faculty outside the campus library to stand in solidarity with immigrants across the country. Some of the professors shared their own stories of immigration or fleeing their home countries as refugees.

The group criticized the Schenectady City Council for not adopting ‘sanctuary city’ status – the council this week instead passed a resolution calling on Congress to improve federal immigration laws.

‘To criminalize entire communities is not just wrong, it’s impractical,’ said Daniel Mosquera, a Latin American studies professor. ‘It doesn’t recognize the links we need to nourish society.'”


Syracuse Tech Firm, Church, SU Help Burmese Refugees With ESL Family Program (Video)

By Scott Trimble – (December 1, 2016)

“‘We saw a need to help parents learn English as much as their children to help their children learning in school, because parents that can spend 15 minutes reading to their children will have more motivated children in school,’ Riina said.

In addition to English learning, the SU student volunteers also implement programs for credit in their classes to help the refugees, such as an eye health seminar and sight test they performed on the refugees. ‘It’s important for them to be able to talk to their children’s teachers, their doctors, eye doctors, and emergency people. That’s why this ESL program is so important for them,’ said Riina.”

Syracuse Refugees Challenge Trump’s Ban: ‘This Country Gave Me A Second Chance’

By Chris Baker– (January 31 ,2017)

“A group of residents wants Syracuse to know the hardships refugees endure while fleeing their native lands to start anew here.

About 50 people gathered at Perseverance Park in downtown Syracuse for ‘Trump Tuesday,’ where three refugees shared their emigration stories and thoughts on new federal policies.”

SA and RHA partner to help refugee center in Northside neighborhoodSA And RHA Partner To Help Refugee Center in Northside Neighborhood

By Jordan Muller – The Daily Orange (March 7, 2017)

“The Syracuse University Student Association and Residence Hall Association recently kicked off the Spring Into Action campaign, a series of five community service events to get SU students involved in the greater Syracuse community.

The NSLC helps refugees — both children and adults — from around the world settle in Syracuse by offering English classes, financial literacy seminars and after-school homework help, according to its website.

Fowler said the center didn’t have the funds to repaint the walls in the classrooms, which were rundown after years of use, adding that the volunteers painted three classrooms at the center in bright colors to create a more welcoming atmosphere.”

Student Groups in Canton Sponsoring Fundraiser For Refugees Getting Settled in U.S.

North Country Now (March 9, 2017)

“Two St. Lawrence University student groups are co-sponsoring a benefit fundraising event for Syrian refugees in the Syracuse-area who are trying to establish their new lives in the United States.

The fundraiser will target education for refugee children.

‘Many of the children have been out of school for over three years,” Sahar said. “The families only get $700 in assistance a month for food, shelter, etc., and it costs $600 to send one child to school.’”

Student Gala at SLU Raises Money for Syrian Refugees

WWNYTV (March 11, 2017)

“Organizers said aside from raising money, the gala is meant to inform people about refugees, and promote the idea that helping victims of war can be done locally.

‘As a community, as St. Lawrence University, we feel that it’s very necessary in times of need to show others that we are here for them,’ Amaya Lopez-Silvero, Euphrates Institute SLU co-chapter leader said.”

Syracuse Officials Promise to Protect Immigrants Against Threats from Washington Syracuse Officials Promise to Protect Immigrants Against Threats from Washington

By Chris Bolt, John Smith , Olivia Proia & Taylor Epps— WAER (March 28, 2017)

“‘We will not be bullied by somebody who is trying to demagogue hard working people who are often escaping violence and retribution and looking to our country as a sanctuary so that they can live in peace and raise their families,’ said Miner.

‘These are policies that are going to have a terrible upon affordable housing, upon education and the environment. Demagoguing immigrants is just one further negative policy,’ said Miner. ‘You’re going to see elected officials, mayors and city councilors stand up and say we are not going to allow you to make generalizations about hard working immigrants.’”

A New Restaurant Run by Refugees is Revolutionizing One of America's Poorest Cities A New Restaurant Run by Refugees is Revolutionizing One of America’s Poorest Cities

By Lesley Porcelli — Saveur (April 3, 2017)

“The restaurant, a project sponsored by Onondaga Community College, aims to give entrepreneurs—largely refugees and other immigrants, but also aspiring American-born people—a workspace and start-up funding to launch their own food businesses. It functions as a series of pop-ups: entrepreneur residencies last six months, and when one residency ends, the restaurant reinvents itself. The inaugural incarnation is With Love, Pakistan.

The scene resembled a postcard image from a utopian urban America. Tattooed hipsters of every skin color mingled with women in hijabs. Elderly couples chatted with hippie families from the university neighborhood. Everyone good-naturedly made space for the gentleman on crutches and the woman in the wheelchair. The crowd wrapped out the door.

The handful of students working at With Love, I learned, would also turn over every six to nine months. In the meantime, they’d learn skills either on the kitchen line or as waitstaff in the dining room—even, in some cases, while simultaneously learning English. (A press release from Sudmann mentioned that diners might occasionally see interpreters trailing their waiters.) If these students faltered in their new jobs after completing the training program, With Love would take them back for additional training.”

Trump Protesters in Syracuse Rally Against Syria Air Strikes

Spectrum News (April 8, 2017)

“Members would like to help those in Syria by accepting their refugees instead of sending missiles.”

Thrive at SU raises more than $1,500 to help refugees in Syracuse – with dance, music and Otto the OrangeThrive at SU Raises More Than $1,500 To Help Refugees in Syracuse – With Dance, Music and Otto the Orange

By Divya Murthy  — The Daily Orange (April 16, 2017)

“‘This is a really powerful statement about the values that we hold and the fact that we’re a welcoming community,’ she said in her speech. ‘By having events like this, it’s like lighting a candle in the darkness to say that we truly know what it means to be American and we know what our values are.’

Mayor Miner welcomed guests and talked with them even before she stepped up to the stage, because she believes that’s how new Americans deserve to be welcomed here in Syracuse.

‘I think the more our community can show and illustrate how much we value having immigrants and refugees and new Americans here and how we want to celebrate them and bring them into our culture, our city and community, it’s a very good thing,’ Miner said. ‘Almost everybody that I meet with wants to welcome people to Syracuse. This is a way to stand out and do that. Despite some of the harsh language going on, that’s not the way it is in Syracuse.’

‘Our hope is to turn it into an annual thing, where every year we identify another non-profit in the community and work with them over a year, to find ways to help them and volunteer with them and identify problems that need a funding boost,’ he said. “And then host this every year in the Syracuse community.'”

Welcome Refugees to America

By Julie Loney  — The Oswegonian (April 20, 2017)

By being a sanctuary city, according to Mayor Stephanie Miner, Syracuse shows the rest of New York State that acceptance of people regardless of their geological background is to be valued. By providing services to refugee students, it sets an example of how other organizations should be able to understand their audiences, and provide messages to others about how to better understand this intense political climate people are now living in.

The importance of the Syracuse Film Festival and its partners allowing refugees to attend for free can also impact U.S. citizens. As this festival is determined to help individuals grow in their understanding of political issues, audiences can see that the refugee crisis is not something happening in a far-away land that is never on the news. Students captivate and inspire people around the world and offering this event to refugee students opens citizens’ eyes that much more.

When asked what the importance of such an event is Ivers said, ‘For me, it underscores how special Syracuse is. It has always welcomed refugees.'”


This Downtown Troy Restaurant is Helping Refugees as it Serves Authentic Korean Food

By Chelsea Diana —  Albany Business Review (April 20, 2017)

“Sunhee’s Farm and Kitchen in downtown Troy, New York, is creating jobs for refugees who are moving to the Albany area for the first time.

It also has authentic Korean food, grocery items and spices in a bright space that features salvaged wood tables, white lanterns and a half-circle bar.

She moved back to the Albany area a few years ago for a job at U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, where she helped refugees find jobs. Now at Sunhee’s, almost all of her employees are immigrants and refugees. The restaurant and shop recently started offering English classes.”


Trump Says Muslim girls_in_carRefugees Are Dangerous. Utica NY Disagrees

By Brian Mann – North Country Public Radio (November 21, 2016)

“Here in Utica, where there are refugees everywhere, I tried hard to find people frightened of them or angry about their presence. I talked to government officials, journalists, people in cafes and bars and on the street. I couldn’t find anyone concerned about safety or national security or terrorism. It was like the presidential campaign was happening on a different planet.

Whatever happens next with America’s refugee program, these young women think their place in Utica is secure. They told me that this is their home.”

Refugees, Supporters Rally in Solidarity at Utica’s Oneida Square

By Alissa Scott – Observer Dispatch (February 10, 2017)

“‘We feel sorry for refugees,’ Alhilali said, surrounded by hundreds of refugees and refugee supporters at a solidarity rally Friday afternoon at Utica’s Oneida Square. ‘We feel sorry for immigrants. We feel sorry for my family. My kids. They call me every day. They say, can we come to America now?’

Hundreds filled the sidewalks around the roundabout, carrying signs and chanting phrases such as, “Tell me what Utica looks like/This is what Utica looks like,” “No ban, no wall,” and a few renditions of “This Land Is Your Land.”

‘Our diversity makes us so much better,’ she said. ‘I know that people are scared. There are a lot of scary things happening. But closing our doors isn’t going to solve anything.’”

Utica Residents Try to Improve Relations with Refugees

By Melissa Krull – Spectrum News (March 1, 2017)

“Wednesday morning, several came out to a training session at the Dorothy Smith Center for Advocacy. It focused on refugees, concepts of culture, and strategies for working within diverse communities.

‘We’ve been doing this for two years, but it seems more now than ever I do have more audience and more people signing up for these trainings,’ said Resource Center for Independent Living Program Coordinator Sasha Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said the amount of participants have tripled recently.”

GUEST VIEW: Refugees Good For City’s Economic Development

By David Dyssegaard Kallick and Shelly Callahan – Observer-Dispatch (March 8, 2017)

“Locally, we’ve seen East Utica renovated and revitalized as Bosnians moved in in the 1990s, making the area a more appealing place to live and do business. The same thing is happening today in Corn Hill, as Burmese and Karen refugees moved in, joined by Bhutanese, Sudanese, Iraqis, and Somali Bantu. Stop by Oneida Square, Bleecker Street or Mohawk Street and you’ll see lots of small ethnic businesses, from a Vietnamese market, to Bosnian coffee shops and a wide range of restaurants. You can eat food from Bosnia, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Lebanon, Dominican Republic and Burma all in one week.

And, outside of Utica in Oneida County immigrants are playing an important role as farm workers, supporting the region’s agricultural industry.

So, by all means, when you think of refugee resettlement, think first about the humanitarian good it does and how it figures into your life, maybe even into your own family history.”

‘Chaotic times’ at local refugee center

By – Observer-Dispatch (March 29, 2017)

“After more than three decades of helping refugees in Utica, the arrivals board at the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees is blank.

There is some good news, however. The Community Foundation of Herkimer and & Oneida Counties has stepped in to assist with donations and will match the total donations in grant money up to $20,000.

‘There’s an expectation by the community that we’ll be here helping people,” she said. “We are finding out that there is more work than ever to be done.'”

Refugee Artist Program offers outlet, chance to share culture

Refugee Artist Program Offers Outlet, Chance To Share Culture

By – Observer-Dispatch (April 4, 2017)

“Instead of being overwhelmed with all of the unknowns, you are given the opportunity to perform and share some of your culture with the inhabitants of your new home.

The Refugee Artist Program has helped many at the Midtown Utica Community Center not only meet new people in the community but share a part of themselves through performing at international events and other events such as the Levitt AMP Utica Music Series.

‘Sometimes, it would be that the performer has only been here for a week and that is the loneliest time. Giving them a stage as an outlet and having people applaud you is amazing,’ MUCC Director Chris Sunderlin said. ‘It naturally evolved because one of the things we try and promote is culture. It’s one of the things that we use to comfort newcomers.’

‘We get tons of requests,’ he said ‘This is a valuable and cherished art form. There’s so much built-up love for refugees right now and it’s really pushing some people to put their money where their mouth is. There’s so much that goes into the planning and the execution.'”


Chobani founder stands by hiring refugeesChobani Founder Stands By Hiring Refugees

CBS 60 Minutes  (April 6, 2017)

“Refugees helped Ulukaya build his business at a smaller plant in upstate New York. As demand grew for his product, he needed more workers and turned to refugees the government had resettled in Utica, New York.  He provided transportation to the plant in New Berlin and translators on the floor.  ‘The minute they get a job, that’s the minute they stop being a refugee … They are the most loyal, hard-working people right now in our plant here. We have 19 different nationalities, 16 different translators,’ he tells Kroft.

The name ‘Chobani’ he chose for his product speaks to his life. He tells Kroft, ‘[It means] shepherd.  It’s a very beautiful word. It represents peace…giving…kindness and it meant a lot to me…I come from a life with shepherds and mountains and all that stuff.'”

NYS Budget: $2M Allocated for Refugees

By Brettan Keenan– WKBW Buffalo (April 12, 2017)

“Assemblyman Sean Ryan says he is happy with the New York State budget and praised the $2 million included for refugee resettlement across the state.

‘The message was clear,’ said Assemblyman Ryan. ‘We need to invest in refugee resettlement. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the humanitarian thing to do and its the smart economic thing to do.’

‘This is what we do in this community,’ said Mayor Byron Brown. “That is never, ever going to change no matter what they say in Washington, D.C.'”

International Festival Showcases Region’s Diversity

By Carolyn Bostick – Observer-Dispatch (April 13, 2017)

“The festival showcased cultures from around the world with table displays, demonstrations and performances by MVCC students, faculty and staff and cultural organizations from the area.

Near the entrance, an interactive exhibit allows people to represent their heritage by creating a massive paper chain with each link marked with a different country to denote the diverse backgrounds of MVCC’s campus.

‘We’ve been building this for years; it’s the heritage of students, visitors and staff,’ said Carolyn DeJohn, who was one of the exhibitors. ‘It just keeps growing and growing. We actually have a hard time storing it.'”

OUR VIEW: Sharing Our Diversity Can Strengthen Our Region

Observer-Dispatch (April 19, 2017)

“The region needs more events like last week’s International Festival at Mohawk Valley Community College.

Sharing our rich diversity can only make the community stronger.

It’s a great idea. Our community is blessed with a rich ethnic and cultural diversity. Celebrating it provides a basis for an exchange of ideas, foods, customs and perspectives that make our community –and our nation –what it is today.

Those who remember the ‘Celebration of Nations’ know what a truly special event it was. We should strive to bring it back. By learning more about one another, we strengthen our community.”