immigration

A refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos
Razi Jafri

More Syrian refugees have come to Michigan seeking a new life than any other state.

The State Department reports that 505 Syrian refugees settled in our state between May 2011 and May 2016. And more are on the way.

Joe Linstroth/Michigan Radio

Among the hundreds of Syrians who fled their homeland for Michigan is a young family of five.

They came here just this past April, trading the violence and death in Homs for a sparsely furnished, rented corner duplex in a modest neighborhood in Dearborn.

We'll be bringing you the story of this young family on Stateside over the coming months as they settle into their new life in Michigan.

Simon Blackley/flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Next Idea

A child's first day of school can be both an exciting and stressful time for a parent, especially for those who are starting out in a new country. The Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) has created a program to help immigrants adapt to their new community and prepare their children for school.

Mexican and U.S. flags
Flickr user Ken Bosma

Throughout this year's presidential campaigns, there's been a lot of talk about immigration in this country. We've heard proposals ranging from reform that would be a roadmap to citizenship, to building a wall between the United States and Mexico.

We've had immigration arguments for a long time, about as long as the U.S. has been a country, and these debates always escalate when the economy takes a downturn. 

When there are labor shortages, we turn to Mexico and encourage immigration. But the moment the economy tanks, we want to send those workers packing back to Mexico. 

Susana Bernabé-Ramirez and her daughter Sayra Hernandez
Jodi Westrick

Update 5:20 p.m.

Attorney Brad Thomson said the stay of removal was granted so the family can remain together until a decision from the Board of Immigration Appeals is made on the motion to reopen their case.

Patrick McKay / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments today on President Obama's executive actions on immigration.

The case could affect thousands of immigrants in Michigan. And some immigrant rights activists made the trip to Washington to make sure their voices are heard.

"Sometimes we just stand on the sidelines,” said Jacqueline Lopez, a student at Grand Rapids Community College, as she was about to board a DC-bound bus. “And this is just a way to be out there and stand with our community."

user GPDII / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM


It began with a concern raised by some Michigan companies: Some foreign visitors can’t drive with their foreign driver’s licenses, particularly those from China.

Could something be done in Lansing to clear the way for a Chinese executive visiting, say, Dow Chemical, to drive on his or her own?

The result was Senate Bill 501.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Some metro Detroit families and faith leaders are headed to the U.S. Supreme Court next month, to take part in a national rally supporting President Obama’s immigration policy.

The Court is set to hear arguments on the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) plan, which Obama created via a 2014 executive order.

It would protect many undocumented immigrants with U.S. citizen children from deportation.

Frances Kellor reading on a dock
Harvard University, Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America

As our nation continues to lay entrenched in the immigration debate, it might do us well to remember the life and work of a woman from Coldwater.

Frances Kellor rose from very humble roots in Michigan to become a nationally respected reformer. She worked in prison reform and for women’s issues, championed the cause of immigrants, rural and African American workers, and challenged the country to think about what it really meant to be an American.

Ruth Bengtsen (center), the facilitator of "Talk Time" at the Troy Public Library, sits with some participants of the program.
Photo courtesy of the Troy Public Library

Immigrating to the United States is not easy. Luckily for those who are making a new life in Southeast Michigan and are trying to learn the often difficult language of English, “Talk Time” is available every Saturday morning at the Troy Public Library.

“It’s just a matter of making them feel comfortable here,” says Ruth Bengtsen, a volunteer tutor at Talk Time. “I tell them if they can communicate with whatever words, to do so. Not worry about the grammar and being correct all the time.”

Michigan café owner's deportation fight simmers

Jan 19, 2016
Ibrahim Parlak at his cafe in Harbert, Michigan
Gabrielle Emanuel / Michigan Radio

On Wednesday, Congressman Fred Upton will meet with a man whom the U.S. government has been trying to deport for over a decade.

Some say Ibrahim Parlak is a terrorist.  Others say he’s a model immigrant.

Parlak runs a popular café in Harbert, a resort town in Southwest Michigan. On the day I visited, it was quiet and all the chairs were tucked in.

Parlak temporarily closed Café Gulistan because he says he needs to focus on fighting deportation.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A growing number of Michigan cities are opening their doors to immigrants, despite a national debate over allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S.

Lansing city officials today signed a pledge making the capitol one of nearly a dozen Michigan cities pledging to welcome immigrants.

Mayor Virg Bernero laments the current national debate over Syrian refugees is creating negative feelings about immigration.

The federally-created Council of Governors has a meeting scheduled for tomorrow. This is the group of 10 governors (always five Republicans and five Democrats) that gives the federal government the states’ perspectives on national security issues.

This is also the group that Governor Snyder said he wanted to conduct a review of federal security policies after the self-proclaimed most pro-immigration governor called for a “pause” in resettling refugees from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries after last month’s terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Egypt.

Michigan governor puts refugee acceptance efforts on hold

Nov 15, 2015
Google

DETROIT (AP) - Michigan's Republican governor, who has bucked many party leaders for welcoming Syrian refugees, is putting efforts on hold following the deadly attacks in Paris.

Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement Sunday that the state is postponing efforts to accept refugees until federal officials fully review security clearances and procedures.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Gov. Snyder paid a visit to Hamtramck’s BanglaTown Friday, to officially open the Bangladeshi American Public Affairs Committee’s new headquarters there.

That Bangladeshi community is aiming for a higher profile among Metro Detroit’s immigrant enclaves.

Snyder again proclaimed himself “the most pro-immigrant Governor in the country.” And he says Bangladeshi-Americans are exactly the kind of immigrants Michigan needs.

Kate Hiscock / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A new state initiative aims to help foreign-born professionals find jobs in Michigan.

The Michigan International Talent Solutions program offers skilled immigrants assistance with resumes, applications, interview skills and other aspects of the job search process.

Annie Fenton, the program's director, said immigrants who worked in professional roles in their home countries often have difficulty finding equivalent positions in the United States. 

Efrain Zamudio in front of his backyard coop in Allen Park. The Mexican community in Metro Detroit might help carry on the tradition of pigeon racing.
Michael Jackman

That question might surprise those who didn't realize pigeons are "a thing" in the Metro Detroit area.

Immigrants from Belgium came to Detroit and brought their national passion of pigeon racing with them and it spread from there.

See this clip of an old pigeon race from the Detroit News:

I’ve been studying presidential elections for a long time, and can tell you that this has been the most anti-immigrant campaign since the Know-Nothing Party of the early 1850s.

Ironically, many of those bashing immigrants today are descended from people who the early immigrant-bashers hated: Germans, Irish and Catholics.

But I’m not sure that even the Know-Nothings ever descended to the levels we’ve seen this year, with the leading Republican presidential candidate saying he’d build a wall across our southern border and force Mexico to pay for it. Nor did they ever call for repealing the part of the Constitution that says children born here are automatically citizens.

flickr user Gage Skidmore / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Donald Trump came to Michigan on Tuesday to, well, be Trump.

As a few dozen Democrats protested outside the Birch Run Expo Center last night, the crowd inside was certainly receptive to Trump and his message.

How to welcome more immigrants to Flint, Saginaw

Apr 20, 2015
Flickr/Michigan Municipal League

The Next Idea

I am a daughter of immigrants who grew up in Michigan's Indian and Pakistani community. Most often the response people have when they hear this is to ask: “Why, with all the glamorous cities in America, would so many people from South Asia choose to come to the Midwest?”

Rebecca Kruth

The federal government this week closed its annual application period for H-1B visas after applications exceeded the annual cap of 65,000.

Some Michigan business leaders are calling for the government to raise the cap, which they say hurts the state’s economic growth.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A federal judge in Detroit sentenced Chicago-area Palestinian-American activist and community leader Rasmea Odeh to 18 months in prison for immigration fraud Thursday.

A jury convicted Odeh, 67, last year of lying on naturalization papers and unlawfully obtaining U.S. citizenship.

Odeh said she had never been convicted of a crime. In fact, an Israeli military court had convicted her of involvement in a 1969 Jerusalem terrorist attack.

New immigrants are crucial to Michigan's future

Feb 26, 2015
Flickr/Icars

The Next Idea

Every American family has a genesis story about how they came to be in this country: escaping a cruel despot, searching for elusive riches, or enslaved by brutal overlords. Only the few that were made foreigners in their own lands can claim to be the original Americans. Somewhere along the way, you or your ancestors had to overcome the perils of the journey, the acquisition of the language, the challenges of employment, and the stigma of prejudice and intolerance. Regrettably, some are still struggling to this day.

Congressman Dan Kildee
Photo courtesy of the Office of Congressman Dan Kildee

The clock is ticking. Funding for the Department of Homeland Security will run out Friday if Congress can't figure out how to separate the DHS budget from the politics of immigration reform.

House Republicans are using the DHS funding bill to try to repeal President Obama's executive actions on immigration. But there aren't enough votes in the Senate to pass that bill.

Not surprisingly, U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., disagrees with House Speaker John Boehner's assertions that President Obama's executive action on immigration was an overreach of his powers.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Michigan, says it's not his party's fault if the Department of Homeland Security runs out of money.

It has to get new funding before the end of this week to stay open.

House Republicans passed a bill to fund DHS, but it had a poison pill: reversing President Obama's plans to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Thetoad / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

State Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Twp.,  plans to introduce a bill next week requiring high school graduates to pass the same citizenship test immigrants take. Students would need to score 60% or higher on the test to receive their diplomas. Lucido says that he hopes the exam will encourage participation and increase voter turnout for elections. If passed, the law would be in effect for the 2016-17 school year.

user: John Hardwick / Flickr Creative Commons

For the last week, a bus that stops in southwest Detroit has been stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The riders are asked for identification, and those that cannot produce the proper paperwork are detained. 

Michigan United, a civil rights group, is calling these actions by CBP intimidation, harassment, and even racial profiling. 

Alexandra Hidalgo

    

There’s a new video documentary that looks at immigration from a woman’s perspective. The documentary is called Vanishing Borders. Alexandra Hidalgo directed and produced the film. She's an assistant professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures at Michigan State University.

The four women featured in Vanishing Borders are Teboho Moja, Melainie Rogers, Daphnie Sicre, and Yatna Vakharia. Hidalgo says she was looking for people who had compelling stories and who could be eloquent and not afraid of the camera.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Immigration activists worry that President Obama’s recent executive order could bring scammers out of the shadows.

The new program could let up to five million currently undocumented people gain at least temporary legal status in the US.

For immigrant advocates, the concern is unscrupulous people peddling bad or even phony “help” with the application process.

Sarah Kerson / Michigan Radio

  State officials are starting to figure out how President Obama's executive action on immigration could play out in Michigan.

Since last year, Michigan's Secretary of State has been giving out drivers licenses to so-called DREAMers, young people brought to the US as kids.

The President's recent executive action means parents of U-S citizens or permanent residents would also be protected from deportation, so long as they've been in the country for five years.

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