JAMESTOWN – An additional $2 million dollars in state funding has been allocated to help resettle Afghan refugees in New York, this as the City of Jamestown hopes to lend a hand to become a resettlement location to help the evacuees.
“New York’s story has always been one of immigrants and these brave Afghan refugees are here to help us write the next chapter in that great story,” explained New York Governor Kathy Hochul. “Their success will also be a beacon of hope for others seeking refuge from violence and persecution.”
Mayor Eddie Sundquist first discussed the idea during a meeting last week where he gauged the community support for bringing refugees to Jamestown.
Because of the low-cost housing and available jobs, the mayor believes Jamestown is a perfect fit for helping those looking for a permanent home.
“We have the healthcare resources, both with a federally qualified healthcare center, along with other agencies that provide healthcare services,” boasts Sundquist. “Especially in Buffalo and here. And we’ve found that we’ve got a school system that is ready and welcoming to children of refugee families.”
Sundquist’s plan is in-line with several municipalities across the state, following the lead of Governor Kathy Hochul.
“As you know, the Statue of Liberty is inscribed. It says, ‘give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to be free. The wretched refuse to a teeming shore.’ And that statement encapsulates our values,” says Hochul. “We want people to come here despite where they came from or despite the circumstances that drove them to this country, into this state. We say, you are welcome here. You’re welcome with open arms and we’ll work to keep you safe.”
The mayor hopes to develop a pilot program for no more than twenty refugees, whether families or individuals, that can form a community within the larger Jamestown community.
“A lot of the refugees coming in have been embedded in the U.S. military, that have been translators, that have helped in Afghanistan,” notes Sundquist. “So, refugees that we’re getting are people that are hard-working, have a base understanding of our language, and want to come to a place they can resettle. They can work, create their community, start entrepreneurship programs. Being able to open up their own business or to help the community.”
Over 7,500 Afghans have taken refuge in the state of New York, with an expected 1,800 more on the way. Mayor Sunquist hopes to jumpstart his coalition of helping hands by next week.