Far fewer refugees resettled in Rochester in 2017 compared to the previous year.
The Catholic Family Center says efforts by the Trump administration to restrict the number of refugees entering the country and confusion over which countries they're permitted from has had a cumulative effect.
From January 1 to November 30 of this year, 396 refugees have found a new home in Rochester. That's compared to 1,111 in the same period in 2016.
"I feel sad for our country, because we're missing a great opportunity to experience and be with people who can offer so much to us in many ways,” said Lisa Hoyt, director of refugee settlement at the Catholic Family Center. “Not just culturally; they offer a lot economically to our country."
A reduction in funding and work has led ten of the 35 employees in Hoyt’s department to look for work elsewhere. 90 percent of the employees in Hoyt's department are former refugees.
The Catholic Family Center is getting ready to launch a campaign in the New Year featuring local refugees' stories. Spokesperson Kathy Cronin Grant said the goal is to touch people’s hearts and minds by helping them understand who and what refugees are.
"I don't think the United States has that in focus anymore, the kind of nation we've always been,” Hoyt said, “which is one of welcoming and trying to lend a hand to people who are suffering persecution.”
Refugees arrived in Rochester over the past 11 months from Bhutan, Burma, the Congo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Cuba, and Ukraine. 2018 may bring even fewer local resettlements, according to Hoyt. The Trump administration plans to cap the number of refugees the U.S. will accept next year at 45,000. That is a dramatic drop from the level set by the Obama administration and would be the lowest number in years.