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 /

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 /

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 /

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, September 2015.
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 -

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.

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
A group of Syrian refugees.
user 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.

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

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

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

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

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.


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.


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.

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.