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Help Declare Binghamton a Welcoming City for Refugees

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The American Civic Association (ACA) is a non-profit organization formed in the city of Binghamton, NY in 1939 with the mission of aiding immigrants and refugees in becoming accustomed to a new life in our community. ACA services include, but are not limited to, offering ESL and GED classes and job preparation skills through the Binghamton Board of Education. We aid refugees under the guidelines of the office of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), who oversees our resettlement program. We help in obtaining Green Cards, and in becoming U.S. citizens. We offer citizenship classes and we assist with USCIS applications for a nominal fee.

We feel it is important to recognize that refugees attempting to flee violence and instability in their home countries deserve our compassion and assistance, not fear and bigotry.  Welcoming refugees is an important humanitarian step for us to take, and it benefits both refugees and the communities they settle in. We in Binghamton have benefited greatly from the contributions of immigrants and refugees from many countries.

The American Civic Association, in a combined effort with other members of the community, have proposed the following resolution to Binghamton City Council. This resolution, which if passed, will make a statement that Binghamton is a compassionate city, open and welcoming to incoming refugees. The resolution will be voted on the 22nd of December. Please help us in convincing our city council members that this is a supportive community, willing to open their arms to refugees in their time of need, by signing this petition, which will be presented to the council on the 22nd.

WHEREAS The Refugee Act of 1980 declared that it is “the historic policy of the United States to respond to the urgent needs of persons subject to persecution in their homelands” and gave the President the power to handle an “unforeseen emergency refugee situation” such as one involving “grave humanitarian concerns” [i]; and

WHEREAS the people of Binghamton have a long history of opening their community and welcoming refugees; and

WHEREAS Binghamton NY is proud to be an ethnically diverse city, with  9.4% of its residents born outside the United States indicating that Binghamton, is truly a city of immigrants[ii] ; and

WHEREAS Binghamton is proud of its immigrant communities, including Vietnamese, Laotian,  Kurdish, Bosnian, Somali, Sudanese, Burmese, Cuban, Iraqi, Iranian, Ukrainian and other communities , made up of all religions and many of whom arrived here under the status of refugee[iii]; and

WHEREAS on average 45-60 refugees are resettled into the Binghamton area each year since 2009[iv]; and

WHEREAS the American Civic Association has resettled thousands of refugees since their establishment in 1939[v]; and

WHEREAS  the number of refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria to neighboring countries has now eclipsed four million[vi], thus confirming the Syrian refugee crisis as the world’s single largest refugee crisis in almost a quarter of a century which Binghamton should not ignore and should stand ready to respond to this humanitarian crisis[vii]; and

WHEREAS refugees to the United States are subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to our country[viii]; and 

WHEREAS refugees are vetted by the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center and the Departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security[ix]; and

WHEREAS refugees are subject to additional screening that verifies what caused them to flee their homes[x]; and

WHEREAS the intense background and medical checks required of refugees can take as much as two years to complete[xi]; and

WHEREAS more than half of the refugees brought to the United States have been children[xii]; and

WHEREAS a public statement that Binghamton is a welcoming community implicitly and clearly conveys that Binghamton will self-identify as a compassionate city; and

WHEREAS Binghamton, as part of the world community, can and should play a role, however small, in the collective response to fear-mongering and human suffering.

Be it resolved that we, the members of the Binghamton City Council, a body of elected officials that  represent people from a multitude of ethnicities and religions, reaffirm our commitment to remain a place of support for the refugees who have, in past years, made Binghamton their home; and

Be it further resolved that Binghamton City Council, a body of elected officials that represent people from a multitude of ethnicities and religions, affirm and express a commitment to be a welcoming community to any and all future refugees who have gained sanctioned entrance into the United States of America.

 

 



[i] 94 STAT.102.PUBLIC LAW 96-212-MAR. 17, 1980. Public Law 96-212

 (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/STATUTE-94/pdf/STATUTE-94-Pg102.pdf)
[ii] http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/36/3606607.html
[iii] American Civic Association, Binghamton, NY
[iv] American Civic Association, Binghamton, NY
[v] American Civic Association, Binghamton, NY
[vi] Stories from Syrian Refugees. UNHCR.

(http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/syria.php)
[vii] U.N.: Syrian Refugee Crisis Is ‘Biggest Humanitarian Emergency Of Our Era’  (NPR, 8/29/14)
[viii] Infographic: The Screening Process for Refugee Entry into the United States (Amy Pope, Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security; White House, 11/20/15)
[ix] Background Briefing on Refugee Screening and Admissions (Department of State, 11/17/15)
[x] Background Briefing on Refugee Screening and Admissions (Department of State, 11/17/15)
[xi] Why It takes Two Years for Syrian Refugees to Enter the U.S., (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/11/20/us/why-it-takes-two-years-for-syrian-refugees-to-apply-to-enter-the-united-states.html)
[xii] US Boosts Efforts to Help Syrian Refugees (Voice of America, 9/3/15)

 



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