The Trump administration announced this week it plans to cap the amount of refugees allowed in the country at 30,000 next year.
It's a 15,000 person reduction from 2018 and a record low under the federal program.
"We anticipated a lower number so there was some planning in place," International Institute of Buffalo Director of Development and Communications Adair Saviola said.
The announcement came as no surprise to the organization, which has watched the cap drastically decrease over the last two years. As a result, markedly fewer refugees have come into the region.
"We've tried to be prudent in the way that we planned to make sure that we can meet the needs of the community but still be a viable and responsible agency," Saviola said.
Gov. Cuomo said it's his understanding the State Department is considering reducing the number of resettlement sites in Buffalo. In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, he called to maintain the services of the International Institute and three other agencies.
"Unfortunately it appears that Buffalo is joining a few other communities, like San Diego and a couple others, on a hit list in which they're expecting to see dramatic cuts," Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said. "If that's the case, not only would you see these organizations probably have to make cuts on their own, internally, layoffs, but it also would impact individuals who've been resettled here."
Poloncarz said he has also signed a letter to Pompeo and points out even as the number of incoming refugees dwindle, many have already resettled in Buffalo. Cuomo said one-third of New York's refugee population over the last five years has gone to the Queen City.
"The last thing you want to do is say, ‘OK, you're here. You're building your life but now we're going to eliminate all the assistance you had in the past,’ so if you've got a question, you can't even talk to a person anymore," Poloncarz said.
The agencies said they have not heard of any State Department decision requiring them to cut or close their resettlement programs.
"We have no idea yet what's going to happen. We're just in sort of a wait and see position," Saviola said. "I think the governor was trying to get out ahead of this and prevent anything from happening before it did."
Statement from Catholic Charities:
"At this time, Catholic Charities of Buffalo has not heard of any decisions following the Department of State requiring further cuts to existing local sites where the Department of State believes there is 'excess capacity,' so it would be premature to speculate about the potential impact on our community and on Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities' Immigration and Refugee Assistance program is one of four agencies that resettle refugees in Buffalo. There also has been no timeline given to us about any possible decision."
"Governor Cuomo's letter fittingly outlines the value of the work of all of the local resettlement agencies in providing critical services to vulnerable newcomers to this country, a foundation on which our state and nation was built, while helping fuel the economic revitalization of our communities"