This week, Mayor Mike Duggan opened the Manoogian Mansion for the city’s first-ever refugee iftar, celebrating the month of Ramadan with dozens of refugee families recently resettled in the city of Detroit.
The dinner was the latest piece in Duggan’s vocal public support for immigrants and refugees, even as the number of refugee arrivals continues to decline sharply—both in Michigan and around the country—in recent months under the Trump administration.
Fayrouz Saad, director of the city’s office of Immigrant Affairs, and department program coordinator Taylor Nelson join Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson to discuss the city’s efforts to welcome its newest residents.
Most refugees, Nelson says, arrive with few resources, or even tools to access the resources available to them.
Saad and Nelson focus their work on economic development of immigrant communities, and deal with the question at the heart of the matter: who belongs here?
“We’re very cognizant of the fact that we’re supporting people who may not be native to the city…but we need to make sure what we’re doing is supportive of the community at large,” says Taylor. “It’s not just, ‘Here are families coming here, deal with it.’ These families are coming here, and how can native Detroiters meet these families in a collaborative conversation?”
Saad affirms the office will continue to empower immigrants and refugees, despite incongruent federal support.
“Nothing is changing on our end,” she says. “We’ll continue to stay focused and do the work that we have to do.”
Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.