Weekly Feature

2017-03-15 / Editorial

Buffalo remains strong city for helping refugees

In Buffalo, helping refugees is not something that is new. It has been a community effort for many city organizations to come together and help those who have escaped bad situations in their native country or want to start a new life here in the United States.

Catholic Charities of Buffalo has provided services to the immigrant and refugee populations in Western New York since it was established in 1923, according to the nonprofit organization.

Immigration services that are available at its site include assistance with completion of affidavits of relationship or affidavits of support for individuals attempting to reunite with family members left behind; green card and naturalization applications; travel document application; and citizenship classes.

According to its website, resettlement services have been provided to many ethnicities, such as Afghans, Angolans, Benadir, Bhutanese, Botswanans, Burmese, Cambodians, Cameroonians, Congolese, Croatians, Czechoslovakians, Eritreans, Ethiopians, Haitians, Hmong, Liberians, Nigerians, Polish, Russians, Rwandans, Ukrainians and Vietnamese.

New in the Ken-Ton district is a partnership with Erie Community College that is helping immigrants learn the English language through educational classes.

The classes are for immigrants with little or no background in the English language who want to learn reading, writing and speaking. The class also assists students with the process of learning U.S. history and politics for their citizenship exam.

To join, students just have to attend an evening class, which take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, at Franklin Middle School, located at 540 Parkhurst Blvd. The classes are free and open to all residents.

As the issue of immigration has become a hot issue under the presidency of Donald Trump, the City of Buffalo and our surrounding communities continue to make an effort to help people who may already be our neighbors or have children attending the same schools.

There are services that have been around for 90 years and those that are just beginning to assist and make a difference in the lives of immigrants and refugees.

It’s important to recognize that there are people who are making this happen, whether they are volunteers, teachers or employees, and all the hard work they put in to assist individuals who come to the U.S. and need to navigate through a new language and surroundings.

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