Niagara Falls, NY - 50 international refugees could eventually start new lives in Niagara Falls. City Council is seeking more information.
You can see images of success in the photos of refugees on the walls at the offices of Jewish Family Service in Buffalo. And now the Queen City's reputation as a welcoming base for refugees is the inspiration for the agency's proposal to bring 50 members of an as yet undetermined nation to settle in Niagara Falls. The agency's CEO Marlene Schillinger says "Refugees can buy houses. Refugees can do jobs or be employed gainfully. And so they contribute to the community which is what they'll do in Niagara Falls."
Schillinger points out some refugees already work in the casino. And with the support of the city school district and Niagara University for language and training and other agencies for support, they can blend their culture into the Falls which is already ethnically diverse in many ways as a border community. There will be a particular focus on one nationality Schillinger says "If we're talking about building community...you wanna build the community from the same pool of people if you will."
Still the swirling social media concerns about potential terroristic influences and other questions about social services costs remain. They raise caution flags for some city council members who are willing to consider new neighbors. But as Councilman Ken Tompkins puts it "Definitely think they need to be vetted extremely well.
We asked "By the State Department or I guess whoever beings them in?
Tompkins replied "I would like to see it not only by the State Department...I'd also like to see by the county...Niagara county as well."
Mayor Paul Dyster says "One of the things that I can assure people here in Niagara Falls is that refugees undergo more vigorous screening than anyone else we allow into the United States."
Schillinger points out that while this select group has been pre-approved to fly to the US, there is some uncertainty about the pace and flow of refugees with the incoming administration in Washington.