SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Onondaga County and the City of Syracuse have recommitted to the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program and sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The letter due Friday, December 20, was a new requirement included in an Executive Order from President Trump signed on September 26.

In the past, municipalities actively participating in the program had their status automatically renewed. The new measure allows them to opt-out.

“You know I think the executive order, overall, I think home rule is a good concept whether you’re in state government, the federal government, let the local governments decide what they want, what is best for their community. We certainly believe in Onondaga County that continuing in this refugee program makes a lot of sense for us,” said Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon.

While Interfaith Works President, Beth Broadway, said the number of refugees coming to Central New York has been dwindling since 2016 when over 1,000 refugees were resettled (she only expects around 200 this year), the area continues to be welcoming to new Americans.

“We’ve seen an outpouring of support for what they do for our community, and it’s not just that they benefit, we benefit from there being here as well,” said Broadway.

Interfaith Works is one of two agencies that helps resettle refugees, the other is Catholic Charities. Broadway said she wasn’t surprised when both Onondaga County and the City of Syracuse recommitted. She worries the precedent the executive order sets.

Broadway added that Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick was the first to send his letter of intent to the State Department.

“In the last year, 31 people have achieved their citizenship through the city’s resettlement agency…in 20-19 two of the city’s five valedictorians were refugees.” – Mayor Ben Walsh

In Letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

“We’ve had so much success over the years with refugees coming to our community that it’s a no-brainer for us to continue to be in the program,” said McMahon.

McMahon added while refugees are typically on assistance when they come to Onondaga County, they are off it sooner than many local residents.

“Refugees, by the time they have been here less than nine years have paid back everything and are now part of our economic boon of our community,” echoed Broadway — fully employed and contributing to the vibrancy of Central New York.

For more local news, follow Rob Hackford on Twitter @Robert_Hackford

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