To help keep refugee resettlement agencies afloat under the federal travel ban the new 2017-2018 state budget includes $2 million for agencies across New York.
Assemblymembers Sean Ryan and Crystal Peoples-Stokes made the announcement Friday, in Buffalo. Ryan says refugees and immigrants are a big reason the city's population is growing again.
"We know they're coming into Buffalo and we need to make sure that they quickly assimilate and join our economy. And by providing this funding we're able to extend the amount of time that refugees are able to go to English as a Second Language class which really makes it easier for them to enter the workforce, makes it easier for their children to enter our public schools," Ryan said.
Of the 5,028 refugees resettled across New York last year, 94% went to communities upstate. Of those, more than a third reside in Erie County making the region home to the largest resettled refugee population in the state.
Journey's End Refugee Services Executive Director Karen Andolina Scott admits, that the federal travel ban has made it a difficult year, so far.
"It's difficult for our clients who aren't sure what's happening. They're not sure what's going on with their family members who are abroad. It's difficult for staff who are former refugees themselves. They feel helpless, at this point in time. So we've run pretty much every emotion through the scale," Andolina Scott said.
But she says they feel very fortunate that they've been getting a lot of help and support from the community and Albany. Andolina Scott says the funding will help ensure Journey's End can continue to provide necessary services including immigration legal services.