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Buffalo State evicts migrants over safety concerns following recent alleged sexual assaults

Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images

Last week, SUNY Buffalo State University officials decided to cancel a contract to house migrants in the school’s dormitories over safety concerns following recent alleged sexual assaults.

The state university entered into an agreement in May with a local community group to house 44 migrants on school property. However, university officials decided to pull the plug on the agreement due to parents and students expressing safety concerns following recent sexual assault charges against two migrants bused from New York City to Cheektowaga.

One of those accused migrants, a Venezuelan man, was accused of raping a woman in front of her toddler. Earlier this month, a man from the Democratic Republic of the Congo was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a young woman working at the hotel providing shelter services to the bused migrants.

Buffalo State University entered into an agreement with Jericho Road Community Health Center to provide shelter to migrants from May through August. The local community group requested an extension for the migrants to stay at the school’s dormitories until February.

Of the 44 migrants previously residing at the university, nine were from Congo, eight from Nigeria, five from Colombia, four from Haiti, two from the Dominican Republic, and one from Iraq. They were not bused from New York City to Buffalo.

Last Monday, the state university’s interim president, Bonia Durand, notified Jericho Road Community Health Center that it would be terminating the agreement, citing safety concerns. However, Durand did not reference the two alleged sexual assaults in Cheektowaga.

“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,” Durand said, according to Buffalo News.

“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 and living environment as they expect,” Durand told the outlet. “We have attempted to connect Jericho Road to local organizations that we hope can help find alternate housing for the clients of Jericho Road.”

The permit was revoked as of 5 p.m. Friday.

In the letter notification to the community group, Durand wrote, “Please discontinue use of the premises and remove all of Jericho Road’s property and the property of the occupants from the premises and restore the premises to the same condition it was in before use.”

Dr. Myron Glick, the group’s founder and CEO, called the cancellation of the agreement “discriminatory.”

“We live in a community where there’s prejudice,” Glick stated. “And this decision was made, really, in my opinion, as – what’s the right word? – in reaction to that prejudice.”

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