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refugees

Peter Heshey / Unsplash

The United Nations created World Refugee Day in 2000 as a way to recognize the struggles refugees face in their journeys to safety. 

Michigan is no stranger to welcoming refugees. In fact, the state took in the fourth highest number of refugees in the United States last year, with over 4000 people resettled in the state.

American flag fluttering against a blue sky
Corey Seeman/Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Ali Warsame's journey to become a permanent, legal resident of Michigan was long and difficult.

He fled the war in his homeland of Somalia, which is one of the six majority-Muslim countries included in President Trump's revised travel ban. Before eventually reaching Grand Rapids, he passed through Ethiopia, Russia, Ukraine and Europe.

He was a teenager when he left Somalia. He told Stateside that one of the reasons he had to leave was that he felt pressure from terrorist groups, which were recruiting young people to join them.

The non-profit agency Samaritas is the largest resettler of refugees in Michigan.
Courtesy of Samaritas

The number of refugees re-settled in Michigan has dropped sharply over the past six months.

That parallels a larger national trend, according to new analysis of U.S. State Department data from the Pew Research Center.

Pew examined refugee resettlement data from October 2016 through April of this year.

people praying on yoga mat
Courtesy of Freedom House

It was a close call for Freedom House, the one-of-a-kind Detroit shelter that provides housing, legal aid and a host of other services to help asylum seekers.

Its doors were in danger of closing after its annual grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was slashed by more than half.

Protesters against the initial travel ban at Detroit Metro Airport, Jan. 30.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Two Michigan civil rights groups say they’re ready pick up a lawsuit filed against President Trump’s first travel ban.

The Michigan ACLU and the Arab-American Civil Rights League sued in federal court to overturn Trump’s first executive order. The groups now say they’ll amend that lawsuit to fight the new order issued Monday.

Trump’s new executive order targets migrants from six majority-Muslim countries, not seven — Iraq is now off the list. It also exempts permanent U.S. residents and people with valid pre-existing visas.

Newly-arrived Syrian refugees in Oakland County
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Michigan's refugee community has some basic needs that aren't being met, according to several refugee services organizations.

Arab-American rights and service groups in metro Detroit want to find ways to better coordinate with one another to more adequately serve refugee and immigrant families.

Haifa Fakhouri, president of the Arab American and Chaldean Council, or ACC, wants these groups to fill in the holes when it comes to the services they provide.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers
Kit Johnson / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There is another executive order on immigration issued by President Donald Trump, beyond the travel ban of seven majority-Muslim countries.

This executive order gave U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) broader discretion to arrest undocumented immigrants. The result has been a quick uptick in arrests, more people in detention centers, and an immigrant community that is more fearful of being deported.

Newly-arrived Syrian refugees in Oakland County
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Is there a link between crime rates and refugee resettlement in the U.S.?

One group’s research suggests there is--a beneficial one, and that one Michigan city has benefited the most.

The research is from a group called Partnership for a New American Economy. It’s a nationwide group of mayors and businesspeople who tout the benefits of immigration.

COURTESY OF SAMARITAS

Travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries are enjoying tearful reunions with loved ones across the United States and the state of Michigan. This after a federal judge ruled against President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban.

Airlines around the world allowed people to board flights as usual to the United States.

Refugee children play in Warren, MI in 2015.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Some of the people most directly affected by President Trump’s immigration order spoke about their hopes and fears Thursday.

Trump’s executive order has caused “generalized panic” among refugees and some immigrant communities. That’s according to the head of the state’s largest refugee resettlement agency.

Sean De Four is vice president of that agency, Samaritas, until recently an arm of Lutheran Social Services. De Four says the group is proceeding as if Trump’s order halting refugee re-settlement is temporary, but some of their clients don’t share that hope.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

A Senate committee approved Betsy DeVos' nomination to become U.S. Secretary of Education yesterday, despite strong opposition from Democrats and a tense vetting process. This Week in Michigan Politics, Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss how DeVos' positions on charter schools and school-choice could keep her in the spotlight if and when she's confirmed in a full Senate vote.

They also discuss what's at stake in Michigan following President Trump's executive order on immigration, whether state Attorney General Bill Schuette's support for Trump's immigration order puts him at political risk, and Dan Gilbert's plan to turn the Wayne County jail site into a soccer stadium.

The non-profit agency Samaritas is the largest resettler of refugees in Michigan.
Courtesy of Samaritas

The White House continues to insist that the President's executive orders on immigrants and refugees will make America safer.

The West Michigan group Samaritas begs to differ.

A boy in a refugee camp in Turkey.
United Nations Development Programme / Flickr

An Iraqi man planned to come join his wife and child in Michigan later this year. They’d been issued special visas because of his wife’s work as an interpreter for the U.S. military in Iraq. But when word started getting out last week about a looming crackdown on immigration, he changed his plans. By Wednesday, he was doing everything he could to get out of Iraq immediately.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Chanting slogans like “No ban, no wall!” and “Refugees are welcome here,” thousands of protesters jammed parts of Detroit Metro Airport Sunday evening.

It was yet another demonstration against President Trump’s executive order that bars arrivals of immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries.

Caleb Pluta

Governor Rick Snyder says enforcing immigration laws is not a top priority of state and local police in Michigan. That’s after President Donald Trump signed executive orders to curtail immigration from majority Muslim countries, and targeting immigrants in the country illegally.

“I don’t see that as one of their primary functions. We’re actually doing very well bringing violent crime down within the state of Michigan,” he said. “I appreciate the great work of the State Police and or local partners, and we’re going to continue to work hard on making Michigan a safer place.”

Courtesy of Erika Brown-Binion

The Next Idea

Learning a new language and making new friends in a foreign land are just a few of the hardships faced by refugee children. They also encounter cultural differences that affect their ability to adapt; they worry about friends and families back in their home country; and they struggle with the uncertainty of acceptance in a foreign land.

raquel4citycouncil.org / Facebook

There’s no sign that Detroit will change any of its immigrant-friendly policies as a result of Donald Trump’s election, according to one City Council member who has helped spearhead some of them.

Detroit is a self-designated “sanctuary city.” Those cities offer limited protections to undocumented immigrants.

Trump has pledged to cancel federal funding to all sanctuary cities during his first 100 days in office.

But Detroit City Council member Raquel Castañeda Lopez said there are no plans to change anything—yet.

A few hours before Donald Trump spoke in Warren yesterday, I spoke with a handful of people who he probably knows nothing about, but who may be the most truly American of all.

They were all residents of something called Freedom House, in a century-old, red brick former convent, just a stone’s throw from the Ambassador Bridge.


A Kurdish boy from the Syrian town of Kobani holds onto a fence that surrounds a refugee camp in Turkey.
User Jordi Bernabeu Farrús / Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Robin Wright began her journalism career as a student at the University of Michigan, where she was the first female sports editor in the history of the Michigan Daily.

She has gone on to become a widely known and honored foreign affairs analyst, journalist and author. Her books include Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World, Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East, Sacred Rage: The Wrath of Militant Islam and The Last Great Revolution: Turmoil and Transformation in Iran.

This coming Thursday, Wright returns to Ann Arbor to give the Margaret Waterman Alumnae Lecture. She joined us today.

Recently arrived refugees in Michigan learn english and job training in the same course
flickr user Steven Depolo / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

This isn’t the easiest time to come to Michigan as a refugee.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson says he’ll sue to stop Syrian refugees from resettling in his county.

Donald Trump’s son is getting slammed for comparing refugees to skittles, saying if even just a “few” can hurt, you shouldn’t take a “handful.”

But for the refugees who’ve just arrived in Michigan, their biggest struggle is finding work, learning English, and rebuilding their lives in a strange country.

United States Department of Education / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

As Michigan kids get settled into this new school year, there's one group that can use some extra support: children who are immigrants or refugees.

Newly-arrived Syrian refugees in Oakland County
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The question of Syrian refugee resettlement has reared its head in the Oakland County Executive’s race--in an ugly and disputed way.

Some Oakland County residents reported getting a polling call on Sunday, September 11th.

They included Vicki Barnett, the Democrat running for Oakland County Executive. She faces longtime Republican incumbent L. Brooks Patterson.

One of the questions accused Syrian refugees of committing numerous rapes and murders in Europe.

Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell says the opportunity is a "game-changer" when it comes to how the city approaches its future.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

If you live in the Ann Arbor or Kalamazoo areas, you're getting some new neighbors: Syrian refugees.

More and more refugees have been coming into the state this summer as the federal government rushes to meet its yearly goal. And interfaith groups in both the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area and Kalamazoo got together and said, hey, we want to help.

Syrian refugee children in Jordan enjoy a concert.
CGFome MRE

The pace of refugees resettling in the state has picked up this summer, with more than 1,000 arriving in just the last couple months.

About half those were Syrian, according to the State Department, many of whom are coming to the Detroit area and Southeast Michigan.

In Grand Rapids, meanwhile, Samaritas refugee volunteer coordinator Troy Howley says they’re seeing a big increase in people from Congolese refugee camps.

Maan, Bayan, and their three children arrived in Dearborn in April. The family does not want their names or faces revealed because they fear any media attention could endanger their relatives still in Syria.
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.

Provided by Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice

Some Ann Arbor area churches, synagogues, and homeowners are putting up outdoor banners and yard signs to express support for refugees and the Muslim community.

Two local interfaith groups, the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice and the Interfaith Roundtable of Washtenaw County, have distributed the banners and signs as part of an effort to counteract growing anti-refugee and anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Razi Jafri

Many of us have seen the heartbreaking scenes and photos from the Syrian refugee crisis and wondered: how can I help? There are plenty of charities to donate to and even ways to help here in Michigan, but Detroit-based entrepreneur Razi Jafri took it a step further.

Syrian refugees arrive in Windsor, many more expected

Dec 29, 2015

On Tuesday, 41 Syrian refugees arrived in the Canadian city of Windsor. On Wednesday, the city expects to welcome 46 more Syrian refugees.

This is the beginning of a large spike in the number of refugees resettling in Windsor, which neighbors Detroit.

Canada has committed to resettling 35,000 Syrians between November 2015 and December 2016.

Jelena Payne, the Community Development and Health Commissioner of Windsor, says the city found out late on Monday night that refugees would be arriving on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Kate Wells

UPDATED AT 8:53 am on 12/18/15

At a mosque in Dearborn Heights today, about a dozen faith leaders rallied against what they described as the recent "wave of Islamophobia."

Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian and Jewish leaders railed against Donald Trump, and his proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S.

"It is unconstitutional, and un-American, to ban an entire religious group from America, the land of the free and home of the brave, just because they are Muslim,” said Baptist pastor Lawrence Glass.

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.

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