BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Two events took place Saturday to show support for local refugees.
One was symbolic and the other was a critical outreach meeting to make sure refugees have legal knowledge of changing immigration laws.
Starting at Niagara Square, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown raised a new flag in front of City Hall. It reads, "refugees welcome."
"We will continue to be a welcoming place for members of the immigrant and refugee community," Brown said.
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. The Jericho Road Community Health Center is located at 184 Barton Street, Buffalo, N.Y.
Representatives from several government agencies, resettlement agencies and nonprofit organizations were also at the Open House to assist local refugees following President Trump's controversial ban on people from seven majority-Muslim countries. The order signed Jan. 27 halted all refugees coming to the U.S. from these nations for 120 days and banned refugees from Syria indefinitely.
Saturday at Jericho Road Community Center, after a panel spoke to concerned refugees through translators about what was going on with the immigration ban, they were able to speak with representatives from local law firms, volunteer agencies and other groups about resources that could help them stand up for their rights.
"What we are telling people today is that they live in the City of Good Neighbors," said Gayle T. Murphy, Esq., Pro Bono Coordinator of the Erie County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project. "And that we are all good community members."
Nine national resettlement agencies take cases approved by the U.S., and then look for local affiliates such as Journey's End here in buffalo. They are processed and investigated in their home countries.
"And it's about an 18 month to a 24 month process of having these background checks done," said Karen Andolina Scott, who works for Journey's End.
"We're helping clients reunite with their family who are still abroad, making sure that they're getting correct information regarding travel so that they don't get caught outside of the united states with the inability to get back in," Andolina Scott said.