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Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

Detroit’s Haven for Asylum Seekers Set To Lose Federal Funding

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Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

Freedom House’s Deborah Drennan says the global humanitarian crisis is in “our own backyard here in Detroit.”

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Jake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET

Detroit is home to an organization that houses and assists dozens of asylum-seekers hoping to make their home in the United States.

Freedom House Detroit is home to more than 40 refugees who have been beaten, tortured, raped, or otherwise victimized and driven from their home countries.

Artwork created by a Freedom House resident as part its art therapy program.Jake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET

Artwork created by a Freedom House resident as part its art therapy program.

But in less than a month, Freedom House could lose its Federal Housing and Urban Development funding. It would be a huge blow to the organization, which would likely have to make drastic cuts to staffing and services.

We are concerned,” says Drennan. “It is a significant part of the budget — a little over 60 percent.”

The services we provide are necessary. I mean, we’re a bare bones budget. So when we look a losing funding, what part of our services do we cut?” she continues.

Drennan says she’s concerned it will lead to increased homelessness among asylum seekers and will make granting asylum more difficult. “We keep looking at this as really a humanitarian crisis that keeps growing. And, while we see that globally, we really see it our own backyard here in Detroit.”

Drennan says the decision to cut Freedom House’s budget was made before President Donald Trump took office, and is rooted in housing policies that were adopted under the Obama Administration. Still, she says Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and policy proposals do not help.

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

Deborah Drennan (left) with Stephen Henderson (right)Jake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET

Deborah Drennan (left) with Stephen Henderson (right)


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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