ILR School

Immigrants and Refugees in Buffalo

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According to 2000 Census Data, Buffalo ranked last of 48 major metro areas in gaining immigrants, and the percentage of Buffalo residents born in foreign countries remains relatively low. However, from 2000 to 2010, the Buffalo-Niagara Metro Area saw a 33% rise in foreign-born population, growing from 4.4% of the total population in 2000 to 6.0% in 2010. The main reason for this increase is the number of refugees being resettled in Buffalo. Refugees are people fleeing war, persecution or natural disaster in their home countries. From 2003 to 2014, Erie County resettled a total of 9,723 refugees. Currently, Erie County receives slightly over one third of the total refugee flow into the state.

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Many of the refugees were living in refugee camps until migrating to Buffalo. In these camps, time was not regulated. In working for an employer, many immigrants find the time-orientation very challenging. A similar problem involves calling employers in situations where the worker is going to be late or will not be able to make it in that day. In many of the foreign countries that the immigrants come from, a worker needs only come in late or the next day and explain what had caused the problem. This issue might be related to lack of communication devices in the country of former residence. Another problem is the lack of understanding of how business is conducted in the United States. The staff members of Journey’s End conducted an informal survey of some of their clients and found that many had not even used money for commercial activities in their countries. Many had simply bartered for their necessary goods. Training and cultural orientation is essential in educating immigrants about the U.S. employment and business system.


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Buffalo; Data/Demographics/History; Populations and Cultural Groups; Demographics and Data; Fact Sheet; PPG; Arts/Culture


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