President Trump has lowered the number of refugees allowed into the United States to 30,000 a year. That’s a pretty low number compared to the roughly 30 million seeking refuge. Some of those refugees became American citizens today. Oneida County Clerk Sandy Deperno talked about what some had to go through to get here.
"Some of you have come to this country to escape war torn countries, for your personal safety, and the safety of your family."
You might have even caught a political stance in a carefully thought out statement from our own Supreme Court Judge Bernadette T. Clark.
"I’m so proud to be a part of a community that builds bridges and not obstacles in welcoming our new citizens."
Lenny Guner is a Siberian Native who’s been in the Utica for years, and can’t understand why the US isn’t accepting more refugees.
"I’ve seen more immigrants here than down in the city, and I’m originally from Brookland, but over here they just accept everybody and everybody accepts everybody else so. It’s a good community and it’s a good place to live."
While others like Thailand Native Hla Thei are just grateful they’re not stuck in refugee camps.
"I guess I am the luckiest one. I’m glad that I’m in here and becoming a U.S. citizen."
While the number of refugees coming into our area will surly have an effect at the Refugee Center, the bigger impact is likely going to be felt in the business community. Shelly Callahan is the Executive Director Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees.
"Obviously it’s going to have an economic impact locally. You know there’s landlords that rent to us, you know a lot of the shops and markets, you know there’s just not as many people coming. Right now there’s an enormous workforce shortage across upstate. We have an employment department that puts between 300-400 refugees and immigrants into jobs every year."
Aside from the economic impact, Sandy Deperno believes it hurts the American image.
"I don’t agree with his policy. This country was made on refugees, and Utica is one of the refugee hubs, and they’ve helped revitalize this city. I think it’s a disservice."
For now only time will tell how much the cut in refugees will affect the local area.