The debate over immigration reveals a wide divide in the national conversation. While some argue foreign-born workers are taking American jobs, others cite economic numbers disputing that rhetoric. An advocate with the organization New American Economy points out how the immigrant work force has been a benefit to the Buffalo region.
According to Kate Brick, Director of Local and State Initiatives for New American Economy, immigrants are "injecting capital into the economy by starting new businesses, by spending money as consumer spenders, by buying homes."
According to New American Economy, immigrants are 31.6 percent more likely to be entrepreneurs than the native population. The Buffalo Metro area is home to over 36,000 immigrant entrepreneurs.
"They're playing a really important role in the labor market. As we see our population aging, the immigrant community in the Buffalo area is much more likely to be working age."
The influx of immigrants, Brick said, helped to offset the number of native Buffalonians who left the region over the last decade. Revitalized west side neighborhoods offer a living example of that trend.
"The ideal immigration policy is one that reflects the needs of our economy and the needs of our labor market. And right now that is certainly not the case."
Brick says more Visas need to be made available to draw foreign-born workers. Those workers range from agricultural labor to highly-skilled workers in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.
"So, from our perspective we need a system that's really reflecting what our country needs to be competitive and what we need for everybody to be successful."