Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

What Happens To Communities When Refugees Come In?

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Image credit: Melissa Mason

Refugee advocates argue they have a positive cultural and economic impact.

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Hassan Jaber (left) and Shadi Martini (right)Jake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET

Hassan Jaber (left) and Shadi Martini (right)

Detroit Today often explores the divisions in our society based on race, religion, and background. 

There’s one group at the center of worldwide controversy that transcends race, religion, and income. These are people who have been forced from their homes by unrest in their country.

Whether it’s Hungary or Pontiac, Michigan, people are arguing about whether to accept refugees into their community.

Much of the discussion is about security. But we talk much less about what these refugees bring to communities where they are re-settled.

Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) CEO Hassan Jaber and Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees Senior Syria Advisor Shadi Martini join Detroit Today to discuss the economic and cultural impact of refugees on the places where they are resettled.

I think Detroit is a welcoming place,” says Jaber. “There is a strong infrastructure of support, there is a welcoming community… these [supports for refugees] are, in the long run, good investments in communities.”

When it comes to concerns about safety, they point to data showing you’re far more likely to be killed by your U.S.-born neighbor than a refugee.

Martini has been involved in a project in Pontiac that a group of refugee advocates is in the process of turning into a refugee neighborhood with a community center.

It’s a win-win in helping these communities,” says Martini. ”Building new houses… at the same time helping Syrian refugees.”

To hear the full conversation, click on the audio player above.

Melissa Mason
Melissa Mason


Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.


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