Refugee cuts could have an impact on Scranton's economy

SCRANTON (WOLF) -- President Trump’s refugee cutback could have an effect on local populations and economies.

That’s according to a new report by the Associated Press. It takes a look at how those cuts could affect the growing population in Buffalo, NY.

Experts say a similar trend could start in Scranton if those policies become stricter.

Inside the Steamtown Mall, a new restaurant called Momo King is set to open this week.

Its owned by a Nepali-Bhutanese refugee, one of the many who have settled in Scranton.

The city is also home to a growing number of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo and a small number of ones from Syria.

“They’re buying homes, they’re investing in Scranton neighborhoods, they are starting small businesses … They also are employed in some high need sectors such as distribution centers, that’s a sector in our area that they’re working in. So I think there’s a lot of different ways that they’re really economically helping to revitalize the area,” Julie Schumacher Cohen, the Director of Community and Government Relations at the University of Scranton, said.

That growth could soon see a decrease.

Last year, President Trump cut the annual cap on refugee arrivals from 110,000 to 45,000. Just little more than 22,000 refugees made the cut.

And this year, the cap was reduced again to 30,000.

Over a 10-year period from 2007 to 2016, Scranton has seen more than 1,300 refugees resettle in the city and surrounding areas.

But with the cuts, those numbers could drop.

Ushu Mukelo, a refugee from the Congo, works at a local distribution center in Clarks Summit. He says he works with several other refugees there and in there are dozens more at another in Pittston.

“If the government tightens on the admissions and very few come and then we go to zero of those being admitted then it means most companies will suffer a shortage in those that provide labor. So its going to hit Scranton as one of the places and even other places in the states that depend on refugees as part of the workforce,” Mukelo said.

Those who work with the refugee population in Scranton say they’re disappointed by those recent policy changes by the federal government.

“It’s a big part of our American ideals and really who we are as a country to welcome people who are suffering from different – whether its conflict, war, violence, poverty – it’s a part of our history and all of us have, many of us have an immigrant story in our own family so it really saddens me that our arms are not as open as they’ve been in the past,” Schumacher Cohen said.

The University of Scranton’s Refugee Solidarity Initiative partners with community organizations to run English tutoring programs.

It also brings people from the community together with refugees at events like the Global Tastes of Scranton.

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