Erie Refugee Surge Featured in Wall Street Journal Article
A major feature in the Wall Street Journal, by reporter Miriam Jordan, focuses on the large concentration of refugees in Erie.
Yesterday it was CBS News on-line, painting a rather dour picture of Erie. Today, a major feature in the Wall Street Journal, by reporter Miriam Jordan, focuses on the large concentration of refugees here.
The article is called "The Town That Can't Do Without Refugees." We've learned that the author was actually here last August, working on the story of how welcoming our city is to the refugee population. In the end, she took a little different approach with the twist of the trump immigration orders, a development that has brought out big demonstrations from Erie's international community in recent weeks.
The facts though are compelling. Erie tops the list of small U.S. cities for the number of refugees placed in a four year span from 2012 to 2016. That's an influx of 34-hundred refugees, calculated at about 18% of the city population.
The article also talks about how those refugees are plugging into jobs and even owning businesses here. They mention UK Supermarket on Parade Street. It's a business focused on bringing Asian food specialties to an area considered a food desert. Owner,Pradip Upreti, a Bhutanese refugee who arrived from Nepal in 2009, was pretty proud to be mentioned in the journal. "You can't find what we sell here in Walmart or Wegmans those bigger groceries," Upreti said, "...if we were not here most of those people would not be able to get the taste of home and the food they love to eat."
But whether Erie helps refugees or refugees help Erie, is up for interpretation. Joe Haas, Executive Director of Catholic Charities, a key agency placing refugee families said, "Well I think the refugees are an important part, I don't know that the area relies on refugees, I didn't really like the title of that article, I think they're an important part of the economic cog of Erie County, but certainly Erie county will survive, would survive without refugees, but I think it's important to note that they are important to the economic engine they're not just takers, they're givers."
As for topping the statistical list, Haas made it clear that Pennsylvania ranks 9th in resettling refugees, and Erie, 3rd in our state. He felt the statics in the Wall Street Journal were a bit misleading. They were based on cities with metro areas smaller than 500,000.