By Sabrina Maggiore SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC NEWS) Representative John Katko has signed a letter asking the Trump Administration to consider lifting the resettlement cap on the number of refugees. The letter, addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, cited a moral responsibility and the United States’ long history of opening doors to assist refugees as the imperative for doing so.
“U.S. leadership is critical in addressing ongoing humanitarian crises caused by civil war and persecution and in assisting displaced persons,” stated the letter.
Despite the historic commitment to 95,000 resettlements, since 2017, the U.S. has rapidly decreased the resettlement ceiling.
During Obama’s final months in office, he raised his previous cap from 85,000 to 110,000 to help address the Syrian refugee crisis.Trump’s policy lowered the cap to 50 thousand that same fiscal year. The administration has lowered the resettlement cap every fiscal year since. This year’s proposed cap would reduce the refugee intake further to 18,000 which would be a historic low for the U.S.
On par with a decreased refugee cap, the number of refugees resettled in Onondaga county has also drastically decreased since Trump took office. This year 223 refugees were resettled in Onondaga county, the lowest in a decade.
A study conducted by the New American Economy for CenterState CEO and the International Institute of Buffalo, implies that this could have negative implications. According to the study, refugees and immigrants had contributed 2 billion dollars in combined spending power to the Syracuse and Buffalo areas in 2014. The study found that immigrants and refugees in the areas helped regenerate the cities’ declining population, provided employers with labor, and started small businesses.
“There’s actually a lot of research that demonstrates that refugees in particular are often an economic boom to places that hosts them. Refugees tend to be more entrepreneurial so they’re likely to set up businesses that will not only pay taxes but may also generate employment prospects for locals,”said S.U. Professor of Political Science and refugee researcher Lamis Abdelaaty.
While immigrants who arrive in the area do often require social services, refugees are weaned off of most government support within three months after their arrival. According to the study, the money the federal government spends is offset within a few years as new immigrants find jobs and pay taxes.
“That’s part of the reason why local officials have been quite receptive to refugees and very welcoming of them because there are large economic benefits to be had,” said Abdelaaty.