The Western New York 21 Day Equity Challenge

day 15: immigrants and refugees

magine: What would it take for you to grab your family and run from your home? Imagine leaving behind everything for which you have worked so hard, fleeing to a place you have never been, where you don’t know a soul. Can you imagine having one hour to pack, choosing items from your home to embark on what may become a long, arduous journey? What would you leave behind? Envision how terrible a situation would be for you to leave everything behind, putting yourself and your family at the mercy of strangers. This is the experience of refugees: individuals who have fled their country of origin and who meet the United Nations’ criteria of having a “well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.” Unfortunately refugees, as well as other immigrants, face very real racism and discrimination in their new communities. 

The reality is that immigrants make our communities better for everyone. 2018 data from New American Economy indicates that immigrants in the Buffalo metropolitan area have $1.5 billion in spending power (source). Immigrants fill labor shortages in high-tech and manual labor fields and start new businesses which creates job opportunities for immigrants and natural-born citizens alike. Immigrants and refugees also bring culture to our cities, making Western New York a more diverse and lively place. Refugee and immigrant owned businesses are popping up all around the Buffalo-Niagara region, sharing their cultural goods and their delicious cuisines with our community. Despite all of the good they bring, many foriegn-born neighbors experience backlash stemming from the misconceptions, racial discrimmination, and language access barriers, all of which is detrimental to their quality of life and safety.

We want to call attention to the issues faced by immigrants and refugees and make sure that their voices are accepted and heard in the community.


There are currently 79.5 million forcibly displaced persons worldwide. Source: USA for UNHCR


  1. Read “Refugees raise voices to push for racial justice” (7 minutes)
  2. Watch “The racist history of US immigration policy” (3 minutes)
  3. Read “Forgotten twice: the untold story of LGBT refugees” (6 minutes)


DAY 16: Equity and the LGBTQI+ Community


Back to Day 14

Back to Pre-Challenge