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The Takeaway examines immigration's impact on Buffalo

John Hockenberry of The Takeaway hosted a panel discussion Tuesday night in the WNED|WBFO studios. The conversation touched upon a number of subjects, though the centerpiece highlighted Buffalo's long relationship with immigration.

Hockenberry's panel included Eva Hassett, executive director of the International Institute, Syrian-born architect Ayla Abiad and Larry Christ, the Chief Operating Officer of Litelab Corporation, which employs members of Buffalo's emerging immigrant and refugee communities.

The lively discussion was conducted before a crowd of about 100 people and examined how immigrants and refugees are reshaping cities like Buffalo.

Listen to the full discussion involving immigration. John Hockenberry also discusses the state of journalism, talks about challenges that face people who have disabilities and takes questions from the audience members who attended the event in the WNED|WBFO studios.

Hockenberry called Buffalo "a great example of an America re-understanding its history and re-embracing an optimism about the future that's real."

"We're the greatest country in the world, without really thinking about that," Hockenberry added. "It has nothing to do with the military or our power. It has to do with what's going on on the street."

Portions of the panel discussion will be heard nationwide today on The Takeaway, which airs at 2 pm on WBFO.

The workforce at Christ's Litelab is comprised of 18 percent immigrants. 

"They will help somebody. Somebody needs furniture. Somebody needs clothing. Somebody needs to learn the bus system better," Christ said. 

"All that wells up and we become a team, a different team, a multi-cultural team. It's an amazing thing. It's really heartwarming."


Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.