BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — More than 1500 immigrants relocating to Erie County in the last year are still trying to figure out what it’s like to live in America.
“There seems to be a willingness to get along, to try to integrate these refugees into our population,” said Kevin Hardwick, a Republican Erie County Legislator.
While not an official sanctuary city, legislators feel Buffalo is a model for refugee resettlement.
The mayor made the following statement about sanctuary city status:
“I don’t think Buffalo needs the title sanctuary city as much as it has shown it’s a city where people can seek sanctuary in,” said Darius Pridgen, the Democratic president of the Buffalo Common Council, adding he doesn’t recall there ever being a conversation about the city getting the title.
Hardwick feels it’s actually beneficial that no communities in Western New York have the official title as President Trump has said he is cutting federal aid cities with these titles receive.
“I think it works for us,” said Hardwick, who is a political science professor at Canisius College. “We don’t have to be at constant war with the federal government.”
While the two legislators sit on opposite sides of the aisle, the are seeing eye to eye on the President’s visa ban, both feeling it was a rushed decision. They also agree that part of the policy, which includes being able to ask local law enforcement to step up and act as immigration officers, isn’t proper.
“I think you’ve got a problem there,” said Hardwick, adding this is a topic he’ll be discussing with all of his classes this week. “There is a divide between state and local governments and the federal government and that divide has been blurred over the years.”
Pridgen took to Twitter, sharing his thoughts.
“I don’t want to see the efforts of what our police need to be doing in our city now being diluted because they also have to act as immigration officers,” said the council president, adding he hopes other cities’ leaders step up, having the same stance.
The two feel Buffalo has always been on the forefront of immigration and they want the city to stay there, paving the way.
“We are an open city; a welcoming city,” said Pridgen. “It shows.”
“I think this is a a great place for people of all nationalities,” said Hardwick. “We are good people, a community of good neighbors.”