August 11, 2017. This article discusses the West Side Bazaar, a market in Buffalo that helps immigrants and refugees create their own businesses selling their products. The manager of this market claims that it creates a demand for services and products that didn’t previously exist and that it offers immigrants and refugees a chance to become independent again. The article goes on to argue that this market could be an example to influence lawmakers and officials to allow local governments to determine their own immigration policies.
For the past 10 years, the city has received and helped resettle 10,000 refugees who are mostly from countries experiencing a great deal of conflict, such as Somalia, Myanmar, and Bhutan. As a result, nearly 23 percent of the city’s metro population is now comprised of foreigners.
To the bazaar’s manager, Michelle Holler, the market has helped the neighborhood by both creating demand for services and products that did not exist in the past, and by offering refugees the opportunity to stay busy and work hard to be independent once again.
Unfortunately, David Kallick, director of the Fiscal Policy Institute’s Immigration Research Initiative, said officials it’s often difficult to make the case that refugees can prosper on their own once they are free to launch their own businesses.
“We don’t track refugees once they’re resettled in the country. There is data collected for the initial months of resettlement, but there is no centralized system to keep track of how refugees are doing after 90 days’ resettlement,” he explained.
If this data were to be collected, he continued, more insights could be provided, and policies could be shifted so that cities with a declining population could see a boost in their economy by simply requesting that more refugees resettle in their area.
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