SUNY Buffalo State University is evicting 44 migrants from its dorms after parents raised concerns over student safety — but an asylum-seeker advocate claims the move smacks of prejudice.
Officials at the state university abruptly canceled an agreement with a local community group that placed dozens of migrants at the upstate school in May — citing parental worries in the wake of separate sex-assault charges against two migrants bused north from New York City, Buffalo News reported.
“As we are welcoming our students back to campus Tuesday, we wanted to ensure the best possible learning environment for our students and smooth functioning of our university operations,” interim school President Bonia Durand said in a statement, according to the outlet.
“I made the difficult decision to discontinue the revocable permit and want to reassure our university community that as our students return to campus Tuesday they will find their learning environment as they expected,” she said.
The school cut a deal with Jericho Road Community Health Center to house the migrants in the dorms from May through August after local shelters reached capacity.
Jericho sought to extend the agreement with SUNY for the 44 migrants housed there until February.
The community group’s founder and CEO called the school’s move to boot the migrants unfair and “discriminatory.”
Of the 44 asylum seekers, 32 hail from Africa, including Congo and Nigeria.
The rest are mainly from Colombia, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. One is from Iraq.
They were not migrants bused upstate from New York City, which has been overwhelmed with asylum seekers.
The bused migrants include 540 taken to hotels in upstate Cheektowaga, including two recently charged in separate sexual-assault cases in the region.
“We live in a community where there’s prejudice,” said Jericho Road CEO Dr. Myron Glick. “And this decision was made, really, in my opinion, as — what’s the right word? In reaction to that prejudice.
“I felt compelled to speak about this action by Buffalo State because it was discriminatory against these asylum seekers who are human beings just like you and me,” Glick added. “We do worse by the families we are serving if we don’t speak up for them.”
Josephine Amuna Loki, a 30-year-old migrant from South Sudan who has been living in the dorms, told the Buffalo News that the sudden change-of-heart by the school has left her future in doubt.
“We don’t know exactly where we’re going to go,”said Loki, who arrived in the US last year. “And it’s just so stressful. I feel like we’re going to be just on the streets.”