The Onondaga Citizens League studied the issues of refugee resettlement in Central New York. The purposes of the study were to first develop a clearer picture and understanding of the refugee dynamic in Onondaga County -- the needs, the service continuum and the opportunities new refugee populations offe and then to recommend programming and policies to help it be a more welcoming community. The lessons learned crossed sectors from literacy to public safety, and offer information both in process and potential.
The community has a long history of welcoming people from around the world and has seen an increase in New Americans in the last four to five years, as global unrest has grown. The higher numbers, coinciding as they did with an economic downturn that hurt all residents of the community, made the refugee presence more noticeable and for some, more problematic. Underlying the study was an unspoken question -- does Onondaga County have the resources and the willingness to welcome this population in a way that helps them without negatively affecting others with human service needs?
The actions recommended might be targeted towards helping this new population, but were built on the premise that by helping them, Onondaga County (and other communities) help themselves.