Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

The Utica City School District has settled a lawsuit with New York state over allegations that it denied equal education opportunities to some refugee and immigrant students. The school district had diverted some foreign students to an alternative education program that taught them English, which the lawsuit claimed was inferior. 

Redeemer Cup brings new & old Uticans together

Jun 8, 2016
David Chanatry/NY Reporting Project

The sounds of sport filled the air in Utica this past weekend, but despite the time of year, it wasn’t the crack of the bat that was heard. More than 10 percent of the city’s population is made up of refugees, and they were playing a different game.

In Utica’s Proctor Park, between a baseball diamond and basketball court, several fields were full of sounds of “the beautiful game.”

It’s the sixth Redeemer Cup international soccer tournament, a sort of mini-World Cup in central New York. Fifteen teams competed this year, comprised of refugees and immigrants.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

An organization that helps resettle refugees in central New York is celebrating the one year anniversary of its headquarters in Syracuse. The agency said it is fully committed to helping refugees from Syria if any are relocated to the area.

InterFaith Works unveiled a new sign outside the building they own, which is a big deal considering they have been renting different spaces since 1976 to provide refugees with the living, employment training and medical services that they offer.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Rochester became the “Capital for a Day” on Thursday.  Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his cabinet visited the city to learn more about that part of western New York. New York's Secretary of State Cesar Perales sat on a panel that heard from people who work with the area’s immigrant and refugee communities.

The secretary of state says even though the legislature hasn’t passed the Dream Act — legislation that would assist children whose parents are in the country illegally go to college — the governor is committed to the proposed legislation.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Hundreds of immigrants from around the world, now living in Syracuse, came out to Schiller Park on the city's north side last Saturday to celebrate World Refugee Day. 


Drummers from the African country of Burundi kicked off some of the cultural performances at World Refugee Day. The morning started with a soccer and volleyball tournament.


  A group of young girls take a break from watching. They're wearing brightly colored head scarves of pink, blue and purple. Dahabo Layli used to live in Somalia.


Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Sumitra and Maniran Paudel arrived in Syracuse from a refugee camp in Nepal in 2008, some of the first Bhutanese refugees to resettle on the city’s north side.

"When we came here the first time, we had a big dream," Maniran said.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

John Dau is a man that perseveres. And the staff of his medical foundation on the ground in South Sudan is no different. Since the Duk Lost Boys Clinic in rural South Sudan was destroyed in March by rebel fighters, the medical team has fanned out to keep working.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

At a community meeting a few weeks ago, questions and comments about Syracuse being used as a shelter site for children flooding into the country from Central America were heaved at Mayor Stephanie Miner for two hours; some written neatly on note cards, others shouted from a crowded room.

When Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner sent a letter to President Obama offering to host undocumented Latin American children at a former convent, a spirited version of the immigration debate erupted in the area.  On this week's edition of the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher continues his interview of both Miner and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney.  They discuss the  hosting decision, and also have a more general conversation about leadership and politics in the region.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

While Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner wants the city to be a temporary shelter for Central American children fleeing to the country, there is a vocal opposition against it.

There are strong opinions on both sides over whether Syracuse should become a temporary shelter site for the children.

The mayor was interrupted often Thursday evening by a boisterous crowd at a North Side meeting with shouts of "legal!" and applause for comments both for and against.

It took back-to-back sessions to accommodate an overflow crowd of a few hundred.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Some central New Yorkers opposed to the idea of housing immigrant children who are waiting to be deported in Syracuse are protesting.

A dozen or so protesters carried signs that said things like, “Honk if you support legal borders” in front of the Sisters of Saint Francis property on Syracuse’s Northside during rush hour Wednesday evening.

The site is a location federal officials have looked at as a potential place to house some of the immigrant children flooding across the border from Central America in recent months.  

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Oswego's Safe Haven Museum is marking 70 years since Fort Ontario served as a camp for Jewish refugees fleeing Europe during World War II. To celebrate the event, one Oswego resident who lived near the fort at the time talked about what it was like and tells the story of her long-lost friendship with one refugee.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

It's World Refugee Day around the globe and their numbers are only rising.

There are now 50 million refugees worldwide, according to new numbers from the United Nations, the most since World War II.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Beginning Thursday, the Safe Haven Museum in Oswego is celebrating the 70th anniversary of when 982 Jewish refugees were first housed at Fort Ontario.

In 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt allowed 1,000 Jewish refugees to enter the United States as guests, and they lived at the decommissioned Fort Ontario base in Oswego until 1946, when they were allowed to stay as American citizens or return home. The refugee camp, known as "Safe Haven," was the only location of its kind in the U.S.

Tom Magnarelli/WRVO

The Syracuse Landmark Preservation Board approved the removal of six wooden and concrete crosses on the outside of Holy Trinity Church which is being renovated into a mosque. But the controversy overshadowed the mission of the North Side Learning Center, which bought the Syracuse property.

"Salam alaikum everyone! Oh, the classroom is getting packed now!”exclaimed Abdulilah Al-Dubai, one of the founders of the North Side Learning Center. The center has eight classes that teach English to 150 students, who range from age four to 80 and come from more than 20 countries.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The medical clinic in South Sudan set up by a former “Lost Boy” refugee now living in Syracuse has finally succumbed to new fighting in the country.

John Dau has had a lot of late nights keeping tabs on his medical facility since new fighting broke out in South Sudan in December. But last week, Dau said he was "stunned" to learn the fighting finally caught up to the village of Duk and his Lost Boys Clinic.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

A decade ago, central New York welcomed a group of refugees from Sudan known as The Lost Boys. Their story is famous for the long journey they made to flee decades of civil war.

Now they’re watching a new wave of violence in their homeland from afar.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The Innovation Trail is taking a look at how the thousands of refugees coming to upstate New York are weaving their way into the region's economy. You can find more from the series here.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The Innovation Trail is taking a look at how the thousands of refugees coming to upstate New York are weaving their way into the region's economy.

Turnout may be low this night because of first snow, Nicole Watts tells those gathered in her entryway. Even as she tries to explain this, there's a near steady knock on the front door.

Every Tuesday evening, this home at 129 Lilac Street on Syracuse's Northside turns into a community center.

Kate O'Connell / Innovation Trail

The Innovation Trail is looking at how refugees have weaved their way into upstate New York's changing economy.

On a recent fall day, community health nurse Sarah Miner is welcomed warmly into the home of Somali refugee Abdalla. Miner works with HCR Home Care in Rochester and she’s been visiting Abdalla and his family for a while now.

Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO

Upstate New York cities take in around 90 percent of all current refugee resettlements in the state. All this week, The Innovation Trail is taking a look at how that diverse population has weaved its way into the region’s changing economy.

In Buffalo, a handful of students from countries all over the world are sitting in a class at Journey’s End Refugee Services. They are learning how to become janitors for local businesses. The group nods as a student explains an assignment to them.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Since 2004, upstate New York has taken 90 percent of all refugee resettlements in the state. This is the first part of the Innovation Trail reporting series looking at how upstate New York's refugee population is influencing the region's economy.

Utica has long seen itself as a city of immigrants. The arrival of Italians, Germans and Irish drove the city’s population to peak at around 100,000. During the mid 1970s in the wake of major changes to the city's industrial base and dwindling employment opportunities, the population fell by nearly half.

Syracuse is one of the nation's destination cities for refugee immigrants. More than 7,000 have come to the area since 2001.  In this edition of the Campbell Conversations, Grant Reeher talks with Jai Subedi, a refugee from Bhutan who arrived here in 2008 and Gregg Tripoli, the executive director of the Onondaga Historical Association, which has created a new exhibit at the Onondaga Historical Museum on the immigrant and refugee experience.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

A new community resource room, filled with 18 computers, is up and running as part of Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement program in Syracuse.  Much of it involves literacy, key for refugees as they take steps to become a citizens of the United State.

Arnie Poltenson from Manlius is helping teach English to a refugee with limited knowledge of the English language, who has come to the new community resource room at the Catholic Youth Organization building on Syracuse's Northside.  

Onondaga Citizens League

A new study finds that agencies in central New York do a good job of taking care of the 700-800 refugees who come to Syracuse every year. One community group is suggesting creating a one-stop shop for these newly-arrived residents.

In their so-called retirement, Tom and Liz Brackett founded and now run an education non-profit, the Brackett Refugee Education Fund. In this conversation, they relate the story of how they decided to start this, how they approach and structure the work of their organization, and what inspires them to keep up the effort.