The number of refugees seeking solace in Syracuse, NY dropped significantly during the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency. According to Syracuse.com, Onondaga County only received 416 people fleeing persecution in 2017. That’s a 72% decrease from 2016 when the County accepted 1,466.
Syracuse is known as the sanctuary city for many refugees. However, Syracuse was unable to open its doors for hundreds of the tired, poor, and huddled masses after President Trump issued an executive order suspending the refugee program.
For 90 days, displaced people from Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Sudan, and Iran were unable to seek refuge in the United States. Those from Syria were banned entry indefinitely.
The executive order was met with dozens of protests and legal challenges from federal courts. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on whether President Trump has the jurisdiction to ban citizens of certain countries from entering the United States.
However, the U.S. accepted approximately 12,000 Syrian refugees despite the travel ban and 75 made their way to Onondaga County in 2017. Syria is currently in the middle of a multi-sided civil war, which has recently left 400,000 people dead after the city of Aleppo was destroyed in 2016.
The number of refugees from Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan has also significantly decreased. Syracuse accepted 300 Somalian refugees in 2016 but was only able to accept 49 in 2017.
The influx of refugees is not only beneficial to those seeking to escape natural disasters, war, and persecution in their native country but also beneficial to Syracuse. It’s no secret that the state of New York has been seeing problematic declines in population. However, Syracuse has opened its doors to so many refugees its population has kept steady.
What’s more, the refugee population in Onondaga County has been a significant driving force in the Syracuse economy. Manufacturing jobs in the area have remained stable, housing values have gone up, and new small businesses are being added to the nation’s 28 million currently in operation.
A lower influx of refugees into Syracuse could very well lower the city’s population and cause problems for the local economy. Fewer people means fewer consumers, fewer schools, fewer homes being built, and so forth.
“Refugees and immigrant populations are economically important to Central New York,” said Dominic Robinson, the vice president of economic inclusion at CenterState CEO. “[They] contribute to the local labor force and to the tax base as the region battles population loss.”