refugees

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
Freedom House / Flickr

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.

Syrian refugee children in Jordan enjoy a concert. The event was put on using funds from Brazil.
CGFome MRE

When refugees arrive at the Detroit airport, they’re often exhausted, physically and emotionally, by the weight of their journey. They may have literally have just the clothes on their backs.

And sometimes, they’re greeted by a volunteer welcoming committee of cheerful, homemade sign-wielding Michiganders.

“It’s like, here’s a bunch of six-foot blonde white people, 'Congratulations, this is your new normal,'” laughs Troy Howley, the refugee and volunteer outreach coordinator at Lutheran Social Services of Michigan.

Gov. Rick Snyder signed an education budget that presents constitutional problems.
gophouse.com

Several refugee agencies in Michigan say Governor Snyder’s administration led them to believe, in several behind-the-scenes conversations over the last couple weeks, that Snyder would be publicly un-doing his “pause” on bringing more Syrian refugees to Michigan.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Michigan Radio's senior news analyst, Jack Lessenberry gives an update on the debate over Syrian refugees coming to Michigan, a new initiative to clean up blighted Detroit homes and how restaurants across the state are offering a free Thanksgiving dinner to those in need. 


UNHCR / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Federal officials say they’re answering the concerns of governors like Michigan’s Rick Snyder about how they vet refugees from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries.

UNHCR / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Activists have delivered thousands of signatures to Gov. Rick Snyder urging him to welcome more Syrian refugees. Snyder says he’s “pausing” his efforts to attract additional Syrian refugees to Michigan after last week’s attacks in Paris.

Julie Quiroz of Ann Arbor started an online petition asking the governor to reconsider. She says she didn’t expect it to get so much attention.

UNHCR / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Governor Rick Snyder was the first governor in the nation to speak out on refugees following last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut. And he may have come to regret it as he tries to clarify his position vis a vis what a lot of the nation’s other Republican governors are saying about refugees and immigration.

Jack Lessenberry.
Michigan Radio

For this Week in Michigan Politics, I spoke with senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry about how the terrorist attacks overseas could impact Michigan, and whether Governor Snyder has the power to put on hold efforts to bring Syrian refugees to Michigan.  We also got an update on proposed bills to allow people to carry concealed weapons in gun-free zones.


People moving from Syria into Turkey.
European Commission DG ECHO

Plans to transform an abandoned elementary school and nearby vacant lots in Pontiac into a community center catering to Syrian refugees are moving forward.

This in spite of Gov. Rick Snyder's announcement that he's putting Syrian refugee resettlement efforts on hold in Michigan.

Syrian-American businessman Ismael Basha is one of the project's organizers.

He said he was disappointed in Snyder's announcement, which came in the wake of last week's terrorist attacks in Paris.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s Syrian American community and its supporters are urging Governor Snyder to resume efforts to re-settle refugees in the state.

Snyder had taken a welcoming stance toward Syrian refugees.

But he’s withdrawing that welcome, at least temporarily, in light of last week’s terrorist attacks overseas.

via loopnet.com

Plans are in motion to build a Syrian refugee haven around an abandoned Pontiac elementary school.

The project is the brainchild of some Metro Detroit Syrian-American refugee advocates.

Local businessman Ismael Basha is one of the project’s organizers.

Basha says he and a partner have purchased the former Franklin Elementary School, along with about 120 vacant lots surrounding the school.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

One of three remaining Democrats in the Presidential race stopped in Dearborn Friday.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley met with Syrian and Iraqi refugees now living in Metro Detroit, before addressing the Arab American Institute’s National Leadership Conference.

O’Malley condemned what he calls “xenophobic immigrant hate” coming from Republican candidates.

And he says Democrats should be talking more about Syrian refugees.

Google

It's the biggest refugee crisis since World War II.

Syrian men, women, and children are fleeing the war and carnage in their homeland, desperately trying to get to a country that will welcome them, and let them begin new, safe lives.

It's forced the White House to consider admitting more refugees to the United States, with Secretary of State John Kerry recently pledging the U.S. will accept 100,00 refugees a year by 2017. That's up from the current 70,000 a year.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A group of Syrian refugee families had a special time in a school gymnasium this past weekend.

About a dozen families came out to the Beverly Hills Academy in suburban Detroit to celebrate Eid al-Ahda.

That’s one of the Muslim world’s biggest holidays. It commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to God, and also coincides with the end of the Hajj, the annual holy pilgrimage to Mecca.

Marijuana plant.
USFWS

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss proposed bills relating to abortion and medical marijuana, what’s behind the $21 million lobbyists spent at the state capital this year, and the impact of a possible influx of Syrian refugees to Metro Detroit.

via Michigan United

Supporters of a metro Detroit man facing deportation pleaded his case in front of Detroit’s federal courthouse Monday.

Jose Adolfo Zaldana came to the U.S. illegally. He’s been in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention for over a year, and he could be deported back to El Salvador as soon as this week.

May Anayi is an Iraqi refugee now working for St. Vincent Catholic Charities, a Lansing refugee
St. Vincent Catholic Charities

May Anayi was forced to flee her home in Baghdad after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. She’s a teacher. But her certificate is not valid in the United States.

She says finding a new career in Michigan seemed almost impossible. She had trouble just figuring out how to cross the street. She says she once stood for 15 minutes waiting for the crossing signal to change, not realizing she had to push a button first.

via Center for American Progress

Michigan will probably receive some refugee children from Central America—but not an “overwhelming number” of them, according to one immigrant rights advocate.

About 50,000 unaccompanied minors, mostly from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, have overwhelmed the southern border in recent months. Most say they’re fleeing mounting gang violence, chronic poverty, and social breakdown in those countries.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Hundreds of people gathered at a Warren park this past weekend for a picnic celebrating World Refugee Day--and the area’s growing refugee community.

According to state data, of the 4658 refugees re-settled in Michigan last year, nearly three-quarters are from Iraq.

And many of them have settled in Macomb County suburbs, particularly Sterling Heights and Warren.

Gov. Rick Snyder
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr

The number of refugees who have settled in Michigan has grown in recent years – and Governor Rick Snyder says more should be done to help them.

At a town hall meeting at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Snyder called on community leaders to help the state find ways to help refugees.

“It’s important that we find ways to help these people - they’ve gone through terrible circumstances – about making them feel welcome in our country,” Snyder told reporters after the town hall.

“We want to be more proactive. So, that’s where I actually want to work with groups to really make sure we’ve identified the various issues. I think there’s more work that we can do to improve.”

The governor stopped short of offering any specific policy proposals to address the issue.

Immigration groups say the number of refugees in Michigan has been climbing due in part to conflicts in the Middle East.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder has announced a partnership designed to help skilled immigrants and refugees living in Michigan integrate into the workforce.

Snyder's office says the program involves the nonprofit group Upwardly Global and the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

The governor says the department is issuing 10 online guides that explain Michigan's professional licensing requirements for individuals who were educated or have work experience overseas.

There are many ideas and strategies being talked about for how to keep young people in Michigan. On today's show:  we spoke with one young writer who says it's simply not enough.

And we heard about how refugees, having survived physical and psychological traumas in their home countries, are getting mental health services here in Michigan.

Also, Rick Pluta gave us an update on ex-Justice Diane Hathaway, who was sentenced for fraud in federal court today in Ann Arbor.

user gracey / morgueFile

Twelve years ago, St. Vincent's Catholic Charities in Lansing started a job training program for women refugees, but organizers soon realized these women needed something other than job training. 

"If you don't speak English, if you don't have a destination to go to, you can end up being incredibly isolated," said Jillian Olsen.

Jillian shows up once a week to help lead a sewing circle, teaching refugee women how to sew.

Sewing is important for a couple of reasons. It's a skill the women learn as part of the job training program, but it's also a way for the women to socialize and share common experiences.

Austin Davis spoke with some of the volunteers in this program. This piece was produced by Austin Davis and Kyle Norris.

Listen to the full interview above.

accesscommunity.org

Last year, some 8,100 refugees and asylum seekers fled their home countries and came to Michigan hoping to start a new life.

Many of these people might have wanted to stay at home, but war and organized violence made it impossible, and the United States opened its doors to them.

The World Health Organization estimates a full 50 percent of these refugees are suffering from mental illness.

The doctors and therapists who work with these refugees believe that number is too low.

What is life like for these wartime refugees and asylum seekers in Michigan? And what's being done to ease their transition into their new life and help treat these people as they suffer from psychiatric disabilities?

Hussam Abdulkhalleq is the program supervisor at the ACCESS Psychosocial Rehabilitation Center in Dearborn, the largest Arab-American human services non-profit in the nation.

He joined us today in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

Members of Michigan’s Syrian community are stepping up to help refugees fleeing the bloody conflict in that country.

Some lawyers in particular are helping Syrians seeking “temporary protected status” or political asylum in the United States.

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