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Erie County Executive’s decision to stop accepting asylum seekers met with mixed reactions


By Yoselin Person

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    BUFFALO, New York (WKBW) — On Saturday, August 12, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced that Erie County would stop accepting asylum seekers at this time.

The decision was made after a second person seeking asylum in the county was accused of sexual abuse.

That decision is being met with mixed reactions.

Some people tell 7 News reporter Yoselin Person that putting a pause on allowing asylum seekers into Erie County may not have been the best move.

“Muy triste. It’s very sad we can’t ever generalize because not everyone is bad,” says Marce Zerrate.

45-year-old Zerrate who founded her nonprofit, Amor and Heritage which celebrates diversity through dance shares her reason why she came to America during the late 80s from Colombia.

“I left because my father was killed and then I started receiving threats and I was 18 when I made that decision to come to a different country,” she says. “And that’s why I’m in the United States looking for safety, looking for a better life.”

Others also shared their story with 7 News.

“My dad decided to move here because he wanted to give us a better life. He thought that we would have better opportunities here,” says Cristina Martinez.

Martinez says she was eight years old when she came to Buffalo. She’s 31 years old now working as a paralegal.

While both say the process opened opportunities for them, Congressman Nick Langworthy says he fears the potential for more crime in Western New York.

“I hate to be the person that says I told you so but there’s an awful lot of people in public life that said I told you so that this would happen,” he expressed at a press conference. “That we’ll have a rise in crime that we would have heinous acts like we had with two rapes right here in WNY.”

Others responded.

“It’s not fair to everyone else not everyone has the same mentality. Some people do want to move forward with life and why take that away from them,” says Martinez.

The President of the Hispanic Heritage Council, Casimiro Rodriguez, says they’re working with other organizations to identify the needs the current asylum seekers have as well as providing clothing and basic necessities to them.

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