Making Buffalo Home

Buffalo’s history is marked by waves of immigrants from places, such as, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Italy, Hungary and Ukraine, and more recently, from Burma, Somalia, Bhutan and Iraq. Many come as immigrants seeking opportunities. Others come as refugees escaping persecution and violence.

Today, Buffalo is still the home of immigrants– and a growing number of refugees. Refugees are changing the face of our community and are a key part of why our population is growing again after a 60 year decline. More than 16,000 refugees have settled in Western New York since 2002.

To share this story, WNED | WBFO is producing Making Buffalo Home, a two-year long in-depth digital engagement initiative, to inform and raise awareness of this topic for our entire community. The project aims to help the region develop a better understanding of the shared opportunities and challenges we face together as long-time residents and new immigrants and refugees.

Through this project, we’ll meet some of the newest members of our community through their words, experiences and ideas. We’ll then engage the wider community to have a voice and share their personal perspectives on what it means to live in this country.

The hub for Making Buffalo Home content is this interactive website. Here you’ll find a series of digital-first videos, details on community conversations and Facebook Live events. We’ll highlight food traditions and cultural celebrations, showcase WBFO stories on the subject and explore the larger impact on our community. We’ll also be producing television specials and have an ongoing social media presence.

Together we’ll explore the rich diversity of people who are Making Buffalo Home!

Making Buffalo Home is funded by Rich Products Corporation and Rich Family Foundation.

The Welcome Wall, 751 Fillmore Ave. Buffalo, NY
Grant Street Global Voices Mural
Sign at Taste of Diversity Festival
FACEBOOK LIVE
Watch Now!

Understanding the Refugee Process | Watch Now

The refugee crisis and other immigration issues have dominated the news headlines in recent years. Refugees are one of the main reasons Erie County has seen a growth in population, and yet most people have little or no contact with refugees on a daily basis. Refugee resettlement agencies in Buffalo find there are fundamental questions among our community about the process a refugee goes through in making Buffalo home. Many people may not fully understand how refugees come to the U.S., where they come from, or why. There are also questions about how refugees are evaluated and admitted into the U.S., the support they receive when they arrive, and the contributions they make to our community. The current administration is drastically cutting back on the number of refugees allowed to settle in the United States. How will this policy impact our Western New York community? The first in a series of Facebook LIVE events explored the refugee process in order to answer these and other questions the community has about the issue.
EXPLORE
What does it mean to be an Immigrant/Refugee/Asylum Seeker?

An immigrant is someone who chooses to come to a foreign country to live permanently. If someone comes to a country without the proper documentation/permission they are referred to as undocumented/illegal immigrants.

A refugee is someone who has fled their country because if they returned they would face serious harm. This person has a documented or "well-founded" fear. Often, they have already been granted asylum as well, although they did not apply as would an actual "asylum seeker."

An asylum seeker is someone who comes to a foreign country who has applied for asylum (protection) due to the fear that if they return to or stay in their home country they will be persecuted or killed. They have to prove that their claim is true, and that they are indeed facing harm if they return.

What makes refugees stand out among immigrants?

Immigrants come to America for lots of different reasons. All refugees have come because it's not safe to stay in their home countries and they were invited to resettle in America.

Immigrants have many different residency statuses. All refugees are legal, fully-documented, permanent residents.

Immigrants have varying degrees of work authorization. All refugees are authorized to work and pay taxes.

All refugees are immigrants. Not all immigrants are refugees.

What is the difference between a refugee and an asylee?
What is the difference between a refugee and an asylee?

The distinction between a refugee and an asylee is that refugees apply for entry to the U.S. from abroad, and asylees are already in the U.S., legally or illegally, when the application is made. The distinction generally requires that refugees apply for protection from outside their home country, though in some instances the U.S. accepts applications from people while still in their homeland.


WATCH
WNED-TV Digital-first Video

Buffalo | City of New Good Neighbors

Meet Zelalem Gemmeda - Zelalem arrived in Buffalo in 2005 as a refugee from Ethiopia. The mother of two had to slowly rebuild her life, eventually opening Abyssinia Ethiopian Cuisine with her husband in the West Side Bazaar in 2013. Refugees and immigrants like the Gemmedas are renovating houses, starting businesses, reshaping city neighborhoods and adding new vitality to Buffalo.

Featured Video

What does it mean to be a refugee? | TED-Ed Video

About 60 million people around the globe have been forced to leave their homes to escape war, violence and persecution. The majority have become Internally Displaced Persons, meaning they fled their homes but are still in their own countries. Others, referred to as refugees, sought shelter outside their own country. But what does that term really mean? Benedetta Berti and Evelien Borgman explain.


Making Buffalo Home is a two-year, in-depth WNED | WBFO engagement initiative to inform and raise awareness of immigration for our entire community. The project aims to help the region develop a better understanding of the shared opportunities and challenges we face together as long-time residents and new immigrants and refugees.

Making Buffalo Home is funded by Rich Products Corporation and Rich Family Foundation.