Make America Great Again? How about Make Buffalo Great Again!
Over the past week I attended “Buffalo’s Future: The Economic Impact of Immigrants and Refugees on WNY”. Eva Hassett is an Executive Director for the International Institute of Buffalo, they are responsible for creating a better environment for immigrants and refugees as well as helping them find opportunities to better themselves in Western New York.
“The mission of the International Institute of Buffalo is to assist immigrants, refugees, their families, and others who face linguistic and cultural barriers to become self-sufficient, productive members of our community, and to increase global understanding and international connections in Western New York”. The IIB was established in 1918, with the goal of helping immigrants, refugees and anybody facing exploitation or discrimination.
This presentation went over the economic benefits, as well as the consequences of immigration decisions for WNY. If we help as many people as we can with the resources that we have, at what cost is it affecting your life? It’s easy to make the decision, but you have to consider all the options, help as many people as possible or spend too much on training and devoting precious resources to a cause that just isn’t ready.
In 2014, foreign-born residents contributed $3.1B to the GDP in the Buffalo area. Going to college with a large student body, I can understand how that number can easily be reached. UB definitely is a melting pot of cultures coming together. Many of my friends come from different ethnic backgrounds and it still amazes me how someone can live so differently than me, but we can be the best of friends. Opposites must attract.
Also in 2014, foreign-born residents contributed $1.7B to the GDP in the Syracuse area. With numbers like those, it truly shows how diverse the rest of New York is. Most of the world knows NYC as the city of opportunity for anybody looking for it, but all of New York is starting to become a cultural powerhouse.
Since there were so many people at this event, I thought to interview a few people before and after the show to see if their perspectives about the topic changed. So after interviewing 4 people, only one person has a negative view point. I decided to interview Matt. He was a local to Buffalo and wanted a few questions answered.
I asked Matt if it’s practical to be able help so many people in a city that is still on the up-rise. He said “Even though this city is still becoming great, we need to focus on us before we help anybody else. Its like the old saying “save yourself before you save the child”, we have to ensure that Buffalo is thriving and crime-rate is down before we take on even more problems”. I could completely understand where he is coming from, before helping anybody else, we need to make sure that we are good first. without seeing it from both perspectives, we can’t possibly help those in need.
After the presentation, I found Matt and asked if I could get a follow up interview. He was more than happy too and said ” I was glad that this diverse community could come together for an event like this. Once you get down to the facts, it’s easy to see how far we still have left to go as a society. But change can happen”. It was interesting to see that he didn’t consider his original statement wrong, but just amended it to fit the facts.
The country’s economy has been in flux ever since the recession. With President Trump consistently taking away and sending out resources for a wide variety of “issues”, we must be careful and take advantage of what society has to offer.
Trumps Executive Orders
Getting rid of the Affordable Care Act.
Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements.
Just like many that attended the event I had tons of questions such as “How much money/resources should be invest in training for immigrants or refugees?” With companies such as Google, AT&T, eBay and Goldman Sachs being founded by immigrants, being able to support the ideas of not only immigrants and refugees but the rest of the community can really lead to revolutionary ideas.
This event really opened my eyes to show how diverse not only Buffalo is but also Western New York. Immigrants make up a lot of our GDP and possibly have a psychological edge in achieving success, thus only helping the nation as a whole in the end. I believe that we should, as a nation devote resources in the effort to help immigrants and refugees. Just based on statistics, with an increase to immigration to any cities respectively, if their economy was previously struggling, the economy rebounded and started to see growth.
Going to this presentation really helped me understand more about this nations economy, as well as Western New York. Immigrants are always huge contributors to the GDP and an essential need for growth of any economy. If we want to continue to be a beacon of hope, where there is opportunity for anybody that looks for it, we must help those in need, while also maintaining good relations with other countries and using our resources wisely. Making Buffalo Great Again is a process that is achievable, but only if we are all working towards the same goal.