After relocating an Afghan family of six refugees in March, a local charity has resettled a family of three from Colombia and a single man from China in the Ithaca community under a State Department grant.
Despite some delays with refugee admissions partially due to President Donald Trump’s travel restrictions, Catholic Charities of Tompkins and Tioga brought the four refugees to Ithaca in mid-June, and the charity has already provided all resettlement services required by the State Department.
“The Colombian family has been taking steps to get integrated into the community — the parents are busy learning English, finding job opportunities and are getting their child ready to start school,” Sue Chaffee, director of CCTT’s Immigrant Services Program, told The Sun. “The Chinese man was resettled in Ithaca with the intention of moving to New Jersey to be with his friends.”
Ithaca Welcomes Refugees and the larger community in Ithaca, including Cornell students, have continued to help with the transition process.
“Things like showing them how to take the TCAT, grocery shop and how to bank were really useful,” Chaffee said, adding that two Cornell students had helped with Mandarin interpretation.
Trump’s executive order restricting immigration from six majority-Muslim countries has hindered CCTT’s ability to resettle refugees, including three Syrian families who had been approved to resettle in Ithaca early this summer but have been delayed.
Two Syrian families who had been previously approved to move were waiting in refugee resettlement camps in Jordan in January, The Sun previously reported.
Chaffee said it is hard to predict when the Syrian families will arrive, “because we don’t know if they will require new medical exams or new background checks.”
“The number of refugees we are anticipating to resettle this year is extremely low,” she added.
Chaffee said CCTT is also worried about other potential policy shifts by the Trump administration in the coming year and how they may affect the charity’s mission.
“We’re worried about things like the president stopping the DACA program or doing away with Temporary Protective Status,” Chaffee said in an email, adding that the charity serves clients who are a part of both programs and are “worried… about not knowing what the future brings.”
Even so, the charity remains “optimistic” in bringing families to Ithaca, according to Chaffee.
“We’re looking forward to the refugee resettlement program getting fully functioning again and are trying our best to deal with whatever comes our way,” she said.