Welcoming 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.

A new group plans to encourage four Michigan communities to welcome their new immigrants.

Christine Sauve is with "Welcoming Michigan."  She says many times, when new groups of people begin to move into a neighborhood, there is little effort by the existing residents to get to know them.  But she says it doesn't have to be that way, and it's certainly less than ideal.

One community involved in the project is Hamtramck, which began as a Polish immigrant town.

Now, people from Bangladesh and Yemen are moving in.

"The different groups kind of stick to themselves a little bit," says Sauve.  "So we're trying to get people to know each other and learn about the other groups that are in the community and a lot of them share - they have a lot in common."

Other communities include Hartford, in West Michigan, which has a large group of Latino migrant workers, Sterling Heights, which has new Iraqi immigrants, and the Chadsey-Condon neighborhood in Detroit.

Chadsey-Condon has historically been African American, but it now also has Yemeni and Latino immigrants.

Sauve  says Welcoming Michigan will sponsor dinners, community dialogues and other events.