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Michigan Celebrates Welcoming Week, Immigrant’s Vibrant Diversity and Value to Communities
September 09, 2022
Office of Global Michigan encourages Michiganders to explore efforts that foster mutual understanding between immigrants and non-immigrants, as well as deeper belonging for all
LANSING, Mich. – Governor Whitmer has declared Sept. 9-18 Welcoming Week in Michigan and the Office of Global Michigan is encouraging all Michiganders to celebrate National Welcoming Week to highlight the importance of bringing together neighbors of all backgrounds to build solid connections and achieve collective prosperity.
“Newcomers are vital to our communities, bringing fresh perspectives and new ideas while contributing to the vibrant diversity we value,” said Poppy Hernandez, Office of Global Michigan director. “Michigan is a welcoming state and we can achieve greater prosperity by making people from all around the world feel welcome and valued, regardless of where they were born.”
During Welcoming Week, Global Michigan invites Michiganders to explore ways to cultivate communities #WhereWeBelong. By focusing on the places and spaces that foster belonging (ie. cities, workplaces, neighborhoods, etc.), "Where We Belong" aims to go deeper and spark individual reflection on how and why belonging occurs, and ways we can break barriers so that places can foster belonging for all, including immigrants and refugees right here in Michigan.
“Michiganders can play a part in working toward the inclusion of immigrants to create a culture and policy environment where all residents feel empowered to work with each other in strengthening the state's social, civic and economic fabric,” Hernandez added.
To make Michigan an inclusive place that immigrants can call home, Global Michigan works with several state, local and non-profit partners who provide critical services to our new neighbors.
“The Michigan Department of Education welcomes all children into Michigan’s public schools,” said Dr. Michael Rice, State Superintendent. “Each year, school districts across Michigan serve more than 16,000 immigrant students in K-12 public schools. These students arrive seeking knowledge and opportunities to grow and learn. We believe extending helping hands and creating warm and safe environments for all students is key to their success. We graciously welcome our immigrant and refugee students and, with our educational partners, strive to ensure that local school districts have the tools necessary to effectively support students and their families.”
Kent County launched a Welcome Plan in 2020 to address barriers to immigration integration in civic engagement, economic development, safe and connected communities, education, and equitable access to services. The Welcome Plan Steering Committee is moving to the next phase, inviting anyone in the community to join a Welcome Plan priority work group to help implement recommendations.
“The community’s support and participation have, and will continue to be, an integral part of implementing our Welcome Plan,” said Kent County Chief Inclusion Officer Teresa Branson. “We are committed to addressing the needs of our immigrant and refugee residents to create a more supportive community for everyone.”
According to the Michigan League for Public Policy, as of 2020, there were 686,647 immigrants living in Michigan and 46.6% of immigrants in Michigan arrived in the United States before 2000. Immigrants have contributed heavily economically, with $20.3 billion in spending power.
"Excluding any group from society deprives us of accessing all that untapped, unknown human potential that lies within. New Americans bring new talent, ideas and expand our human capacity,” said Louis D. Piszker, Wayne Metro CEO. "It is imperative that we not only welcome, but pursue refugees and immigrants because they strengthen our local economies and, with the right supports and training, can fill our growing workforce and talent gaps."
Michiganders are encouraged to join Global Michigan by sharing their personal immigrant and refugee stories and highlighting contributions to their community on social media, adding #MIWelcomingWeek2022 and #WhereWeBelong to their posts.
The welcomingamerica.org site includes downloadable signs and other resources to celebrate the immigrant, refugee and international community.
Visit https://www.newamericaneconomy.org/locations/michigan/ to learn more about immigrants and the local economy.
Learn more about Global Michigan at www.michigan.gov/OGM.
About Welcoming Week
Since 2012, Welcoming Week has served as the annual campaign and celebration led by Welcoming America to showcase the growing movement of communities striving to be more welcoming places for all, including immigrants. By fostering mutual respect and cooperation between new and long-time residents, Welcoming Week brings together people across lines of difference toward greater prosperity for all. Learn more at welcomingweek.org.