Buffalo’s immigrant community has a long history of contributing to the growth of our city, despite constant discrimination and policies to disenfranchise them and erase their existence. Today’s immigrant community in Buffalo is diverse in status, race, language, religion, and country of origin, and the issues that they face in Buffalo are just as diverse. Buffalo is a border city where undocumented immigrants are driven into the shadows by Border Patrol’s pervasive presence in our community and by the lack of support from the city and county governments. Many in the refugee community have been able to obtain status, but they still face enormous barriers in accessing government services and vindicating their rights. We call on the city of Buffalo to unequivocally stand up for the rights of the entire immigrant community, not just the select few declared to be “good immigrants” by those in power.
The OUR CITY Platform calls on the following policy reforms to protect and empower the immigrant community:
The Buffalo Common Council should pass legislation that limits cooperation between federal immigration agencies, such Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and city agencies, including the Buffalo Police Department “BPD”). The legislation should also prohibit the BPD from inquiring about or retaining information regarding citizenship or immigration status. This policy would increase trust between the immigrant community relations and law enforcement, while also freeing up BPD resources to focus on law enforcement activities that actually keep our communities safe.
The Mayor of Buffalo should issue an executive order to guarantee language access throughout all city government agencies, including providing interpretation and translation services for the top 20 languages spoken in the City of Buffalo. The city is home to individuals from all over the world, many with limited English proficiency. One way that the City can protect and enhance the lives of its immigrant residents is by strengthening language access policies and protections.