UTICA, NY – Today the bipartisan immigration reform group New American Economy and the documentary filmmakers Off Ramp Films debuted a new short film, Mahira Patkovich: A Refugee Rises. At a time when the United States is taking in fewer and fewer refugees, this film explores how crucial refugees have been to economic and social growth in communities across the country. Interested viewers can watch the film at newamericaneconomy.org/stories
The focus of the film is Mahira Patkovich of Utica, New York. While Mahira initially struggled in grade school after fleeing the Bosnian War as a child, today, she is a successful small business owner who is helping to revitalize downtown Utica, New York. New American Economy research has found that nationwide, refugees earned more than $77 billion in household income and paid almost $21 billion in taxes in 2015. Refugees also have high entrepreneurship rates. In 2015, the businesses of refugee founders generated $4.6 billion.
“Mahira’s poignant story captures a fact that’s clear across the Rust Belt and beyond – refugees continue to lift the American economy and bring new life to the communities that invest in them,” said John Feinblatt, President of New American Economy.
“After Utica lost major employers in the 1980s and 90s, refugee resettlement helped to reestablish the population and drive the small rust belt city’s growth,” said Adam Bedient and Loch Phillipps of Off Ramp Films. “Today refugees make up nearly 25 percent of Utica’s residents, and Mahira’s story illustrates why one of the ways their contributions benefit all Americans.”
The film, Mahira Patkovich: A Refugee Rises, is part of New American Economy’s effort to uncover stories that illustrate the impact immigrants are having across the United States. Off Ramp Films is currently working on a feature documentary,Utica: The Last Refuge, which is a portrait of Utica, NY and the different refugee families that reside there.