Watch a television show on July 14 and 17 to learn about the physical, mental, and sociological health of immigrants and why it affects all of us

by Annette Pinder

Each day, thousands of migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees make the difficult decision to leave their countries in search of safety from war, persecution, and political turmoil. Many leave the only home they have ever known because they have no other option.

Refugees are people who have fled their country and who are unable or unwilling to return because of a well-founded fear of being persecuted because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion. Obtaining refugee status can take years, forcing many applicants to wait abroad in refugee camps with dangerous living conditions, until their application has been accepted and they have been cleared for travel to their destination country.

Asylum Seekers are individuals seeking international protection from dangers in their home country, and apply for protection in the country of their destination. Asylum seekers must arrive at or cross a border in order to apply. The asylum process can take years before a person is granted relief from deportation and the right legally work in the U.S.

Immigrants are individuals who make a conscious decision to leave their home and move to a foreign country and settle there, often undergoing a lengthy process to become lawful permanent residents and citizens. Immigrants typically research their destinations, explore employment opportunities, and study the language of the country where they plan to live. Many of us are either immigrants or have relatives or family members who were immigrants.

Migrants are people who move away from their usual residence, whether within a country or across an international border, temporarily or permanently, for many reasons. Migrants include temporary workers, smuggled migrants, or even international students.

Promoting and improving the health of immigrants, refugees, and migrants is vital to the health of our community. Fortunately, there are agencies in Buffalo that make the health of these individuals a priority, protecting and providing care to individuals, children, and families who have often been subjected to intolerable and dangerous living conditions. Obstacles they face include language and literacy barriers and the need for medical and mental health treatment, as they struggling to adjust to a whole new way of life. Many live with the stress and worry associated with having had to leave family members behind and not knowing how they will survive. Many also suffer from PTSD as a result of enduring intolerable living situations, war, or having been subjected to torcher.

This month, we are dedicating a television show to the physical, mental, and sociological health of immigrants, refugees, and migrants in our community. The show airs on Wednesday July 14 at 8 pm and Saturday July 17 at noon on WBBZ-TV Spectrum, FiOS, and DISH Channel 5 and DirecTV Channel 67. Our guests are experts from BestSelf Behavioral Health, Jericho Road Community Health Center, and Jewish Family Service of Buffalo and Erie County.