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Syrian refugee

JOE LINSTROTH / Michigan Radio

Michigan is a top destination in the U.S. for Syrian refugees. Just this year alone, more than 600 have settled here, according to the State Department.

Among the hundreds who have fled their homeland for Michigan is a young family of five that we introduced you to almost a year ago.

They came here in April of 2016, trading the violence and death in the Syrian city of Homs for a sparsely furnished, rented corner duplex in a modest neighborhood in Dearborn.

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

An Arab American foundation has launched a fundraising campaign for new Syrian refugees in Southeast Michigan, raising more than $50,000 for 25 families. 

The Center for American Philanthropy (CAAP) in Dearborn created the Building Blocks for New Americans Fund to provide each family with basic needs like housing, clothing, and transportation. 

The fund is supported by large donors, who match all contributions by smaller community groups. 

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

What will happen to U.S. policy toward Syrian refugees when Donald Trump takes over as president?

That’s what Michigan’s refugee community, and the agencies that help to resettle them, are waiting to find out.

Trump repeatedly depicted Syrian refugees as terrorist threats on the campaign trail, and threatened to “stop Syrian refugees” from entering the country more than once.

Waterford Township Board of Trustees
https://www.waterfordmi.gov

Waterford Township residents won't see any Syrian refugees moving in next door. At least that's what city leaders are saying.

In a unanimous vote (7-0), the Waterford Township board of trustees passed a resolution to opt out of the federal refugee resettlement program. Thirteen of the 29 Waterford residents who spoke at the meeting opposed the board's decision. 

Gary Wall is the board of trustees’ supervisor. He says the decision has to do with the safety of the residents, not bias against Syrians.

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

To understand the tragic toll of the civil war in Syria, you need look no further than the city of Homs.

The western Syrian city was held by rebels and under attack by government forces.

Four years ago, on February 22, 2012, American-born reporter Marie Colvin spoke to CNN from Homs, trying to describe her anger at the shelling of civilians in the city:

“There are 28,000 civilians, men, women and children, hiding, being shelled, defenseless.”

“So it’s a complete and utter lie that they’re only going after terrorists. There are rockets, shells, tank shells, anti-aircraft being fired in parallel lines into the city. The Syrian Army is simply shelling a city of cold, starving civilians.”

Shortly after that report, Marie Colvin and a young French photographer were killed when ten rockets blasted into their makeshift media center.

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.

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.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers will consider a resolution backing the governor’s call to put a hold on bringing Syrian refugees into Michigan. 

State Senator Patrick Colbeck says his resolution is about safety.

“It’s about making sure we have taken all due diligence to fulfill our first responsibility as elected officials and that’s securing public safety,” says Colbeck. 

Governor Snyder asked the Obama administration to review its refugee vetting process, after the Paris terrorist attacks that killed more than a hundred people.

Syrian refugee dubbed "The Scientist" arrives in Michigan

Dec 18, 2015
Refaai Hamo, the Syrian refugee nicknamed "The Scientist" waves goodbye as he leaves a press conference to go to his new home in Troy.
Paula Friedrich / Michigan Radio

Late Thursday night, the Hamo family landed and walked into the florescent lights of Detroit Metro Airport to start a new chapter of their lives.

Refaai Hamo, a Syrian refugee, has been nicknamed 'The Scientist' after being profiled by the popular blog Humans of New York. His harrowing story went viral. Edward Norton helped raise over $450,000 for the family.

President Obama welcomed him on Facebook, writing “you’re part of what makes America great.”

This is the final step of a long journey that started in Damascus.

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.

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

Governor Rick Snyder says he’s closer to lifting the “pause” on his efforts to bring more refugees from Syria and the Middle East to Michigan.

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.

People moving from Syria into Turkey.
European Commission DG ECHO

"We learned recently that we will be moving to a state called Michigan," the photo's caption reads. "My nephew is there and he says it’s like heaven."

Humans of New York photographer Brandon Stanton recently visited Jordan and Turkey to talk to Syrian families who will be resettling in the U.S. The first story he posted to his Facebook page just happened to be that of a couple who will be moving to Michigan soon.

Windsor's financial district
wikimedia user Tkgd2007 / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The public debate about welcoming refugees from Syria isn’t just happening here in the States. Canada is planning to receive 25,000 Syrian refugees over the next three months.

This week, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens joined with municipal leaders from all across Canada for a meeting in Ottawa to hear the newly elected Liberal Party of Canada's plans for resettling the refugees.

UNHCR

 

There’s been a lot of confusion in the last few days.

So let’s just clarify something here: Syrian refugees are still coming to Michigan. More are expected.  

And Governor Snyder is fine with that.

Gov. Rick Snyder formed a workgroup that made 69 recommendations on how the state of Michigan should manage and improve its mental health care system. The question is, how many of those recommendations will be turned into actual policies?
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.

Gov. Rick Snyder in a file photo.
Michigan Municipal League / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Governor Rick Snyder is calling for more discussions between state and federal officials regarding security surrounding the relocation of refugees from the Middle East in the US.

The governor sent a letter on Tuesday to Secretary of State John Kerry and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. The governor says he asked the topic to be added to a meeting later this month of the bipartisan Council of Governors. The council was created under federal law to advise the federal government on security and homeland defense matters.

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.

Nearly half a century ago, a young lawyer started grabbing headlines in Oakland County, then across the state.

His name was L. Brooks Patterson, and he was the attorney for NAG, an anti-busing group in Pontiac.

They were, essentially, parents who did not want their kids sent to other districts to go to school with black children.