BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Recognizing June as Immigrant Heritage Month, Mayor Byron Brown said Wednesday that Buffalo saw a 95 percent increase in foreign-born residents between 2006 and 2013, and the population continues to grow.
"Last year, Buffalo's resettlement agencies welcomed over 1,000 refugees, with an additional 1,500 more residents expected to settle in Buffalo by next year, and that is significant," said Brown, D-Buffalo.
As refugees and immigrants help strengthen the local economy and revitalize neighborhoods, the city is working to embrace them with support. The mayor will soon release the New Americans Study, to help the city further develop as a destination of choice, and the work of Buffalo's newly-created Office of New Americans is now underway.
"We're going to build collaborative efforts with community service organizations, with city departments, and with surrounding institutions to promote economic, social and cultural opportunities for all city residents," said Jessica Lazarin, Buffalo Office of New Americans director.
Following concerns about communicating with law enforcement, the Office of New Americans is working closely with the Buffalo Police Department. It's also focused on connecting Buffalo's 311 line to live assistance in more than 200 languages.
"We want our immigrant and refugee community to be well-connected and well-informed and this is a great way to get started," Lazarin said.
It's efforts like this that make the Queen City a place community leaders recommend to others.
"It's a great opportunity for immigrants and refugees to start their life in Buffalo, and build their family, raise their children," said Ali Kadhum, Iraqi American Society Board Chair.
On Saturday, June 20, World Refugee Day will provide an chance for Buffalonians from all backgrounds to recognize the city's diversity.
"Our goal is to empower refugees and highlight their success and contributions to our community," said Eskinder Tefera, Ethiopian Community Organization of Greater Buffalo.