LANSING, Mich.— With over 80 million people around the world forced to flee their homes due to violence and persecution, Gov. Whitmer proclaims June 20 as World Refugee Day in Michigan, to highlight Michigan as a safe and welcoming home to many looking for hope and opportunity, and to acknowledge their struggle and protect their human rights.
Refugees living in communities throughout Michigan make tremendous contributions to our economy as earners, taxpayers, and consumers just like all immigrants, and to ensure their collective success the state's Office of Global Michigan (OGM) offers supportive services as they adjust to their new homes.
"Over the last decade, Michigan has welcomed over 27,000 refugees, with communities across the state offering support and welcoming their new neighbors as they build a new life here," said Poppy-Sias Hernandez, Director of Office of Global Michigan. "As we continue to welcome our new refugee neighbors, it is also important to celebrate the tremendous positive impact they impart on our state’s economy through their participation in our workforce and by increasing the rich diversity of our communities."
OGM's Refugee Services program leverages federal, state and local resources to ensure refugees can contribute to their highest potential and use their talents to make Michigan continue to thrive. The program contracts with various non-profit and local agencies to provide social services to help people start over, become self-sufficient and integrate with their new community.
Five Michigan agencies, funded through the federal Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration in the Department of State, provide initial reception and placement services for the first 30 to 90 days in the United States for people who have just arrived in the country with refugee status.
"Samaritas has a long-standing legacy of welcoming refugees and empowering them to reach their full potential and become successfully integrated into Michigan. While we celebrate these new beginnings, we are also hurting with those who are experiencing trauma due to war and conflict, witnessing or suffering directly, the horrors of war and persecution,” said Kelli Dobner, Chief Advancement Officer at Samaritas. “At Samaritas, and with our collaborative partners in this great state, we live by our mantra – to be the rock that starts the ripple of transformation, and in that, we are committed to their safety and well-being as we serve and help them to create a new life."
The following agencies in Michigan assist with that initial resettlement process:
- Bethany Christian Services
- Jewish Family Services of Washtenaw County
- St. Vincent Catholic Charities
- United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) - Dearborn
- Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan
The state recognizes World Refugee Day as a time to engage in conversation about the global importance to welcome refugees and understand that fleeing their home country is often just the beginning of a difficult journey.
Join the conversation online using #WorldRefugeeDay and visit Michigan.gov/ImmigrantHeritage for the digital toolkit and refugee stories.