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Benedict J. Ferro, local district director of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service since 1976, is leaving Buffalo for Rome, where he will serve in a sensitive post with responsibility for Soviet immigration to the United States.

Ferro said Thursday that he will become director of the Rome district of the Immigration Service. The move, which is expected to take place in August, will put Ferro in charge of offices throughout Europe, Africa, India and Pakistan. He also will oversee the agency's relations with the Soviet Union and Eastern European nations.

The Rome assignment will put Ferro in charge of one of only three Immigration Service districts outside the continental United States.

"I am flattered that they would select me," Ferro said. "With thousands of religious refugees moving from the Soviet Union and other Iron Curtain countries, it will be a very important post.

"I've always said it would take 40 horses to move me out of Buffalo, and that's what this offer is. It is a promotion in many ways."

Ferro, 51, will get no raise from his present annual salary of $75,000, but the new job includes living quarters in Rome. He will have U.S. diplomatic status in Italy and will work from offices in theU.S.Consulate in Rome. Deputy Director Jack J. Ingham will be acting director in Buffalo if no successor is chosen before the change takes place, Ferro said. Ingham is viewed as a candidate for the Buffalo job.

A native of Schenectady, Ferro began working for the Immigration Service 26 years ago. He moved to Buffalo as deputy director in 1971 and was promoted five years later.

Ferro said he has enjoyed working in Buffalo, which is considered one of the most important of the agency's 32 districts in the United States. The Buffalo office bears responsibility for immigration activities and border enforcement from Buffalo to New England.

"I'm only leaving because I am taking over one of the most dynamic situations our agency has today," Ferro said.

His wife, Alma, and youngest son, Jeffrey, 17, will accompany him to Rome, Ferro said. All three will take intensive training in conversational Italian. Ferro said he is keeping his home in Amherst and would not rule out a return to the Buffalo area.

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