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White House officials visit Michigan to highlight, learn from best practices to support Afghan resettlement

White House Coordinator for Operation Allies Welcome, Jack Markell, met with state and local leaders today to learn more about Michigan's best-in-states practices to step forward, support and welcome Afghan Allies and other immigrants.

"Michigan has shown strong leadership in the resettlement of our Afghan Allies, and I'm grateful to see firsthand the exemplary work being done to equip our new neighbors for success in the long term," said Markell. "We look forward to continued support and leadership from our Michigan partners and sharing with other states the best practices we've seen here today."

Highlights of Michigan's efforts lauded by federal partners include:

  • Directed engagement from the State Refugee Coordinator's office with the five Michigan Resettlement Agencies to identify and address their needs to accomplish this important work in partnership.
  • Activated early-on an interagency operations framework to ensure housing, food and other wrap-around supports for arriving families in a short timeframe.
  • Worked closely with federal partners to explore unique ways to further increase our capacity to welcome Afghan families.
  • Launched a statewide volunteer and donation website to provide an additional layer of support.

With a history of welcoming refugees and other immigrants to our state and providing them with the resources they need to succeed, Gov. Whitmer and the Office of Global Michigan remain committed to making Michigan a more welcoming state.

"We will continue to embrace our duty to honor and protect Afghan families as they flee from violence and political persecution," said Poppy Hernandez, Executive Director of the Office of Global Michigan. "We welcome our fellow men, women and children to Michigan as they find a new home to begin their lives."

State Refugee Coordinators continue to coordinate and leverage state and local resources, working with local resettlement and other agencies throughout the state to ensure new arrivals are welcomed and well-positioned to attain self-sufficiency and integrate into their communities.

"Refugees and immigrants bring a tremendous wealth of culture and economic impact to our communities, and we stand ready to support them and help them survive and thrive here in Lansing," said Andy Schor, Lansing Mayor. "We look forward to continuing our efforts and partnerships to create a vibrant ecosystem that supports refugee and community wellness in Michigan."

School districts across the state also serve as vital partners to ensure all students and their families have the academic and career readiness skills needed for success in their new home.

"We are focused on welcoming newcomers to Lansing, and how we can help them learn and grow and find a path that's right for them," said Benjamin Shuldiner, Lansing School District Superintendent. "We provide promising pathways for each and every student so they have the solid career and academic readiness skills that prepare them for success in their new community.

The Office of Global Michigan was established to help grow Michigan's economy by retaining and attracting global talent; and to promote the skills, energy, and entrepreneurial spirit of our immigrant and refugee communities. Assisting the Afghan Arrivals, the office supports immigrant and refugee integration initiatives for the state and works with state agencies that provide services to immigrants and refugees and strives to minimize or eliminate barriers to accessing those state services.

The Michigan resettlement agencies, under consultation with the Office of Global Michigan, are currently approved for approximately 1,600 Afghan arrivals. Michigan is working closely with the federal government to coordinate the arrivals of these Afghan allies and nationals as they come to Michigan.

The resettlement agencies, among other things, help identify permanent housing, employment opportunities, provide cultural orientation, assist in signing them up for public benefits, enroll children in school, and assist in securing a state ID/driver's license.

To learn more about how you can volunteer and donate to ease the transition and welcome individuals and families to Michigan, visit the recently launched site.