DETROIT (WWJ) – Michigan is kicking off a new effort to promote mutual respect and cooperation among foreign-born and U.S.-born citizens.

“Welcoming Michigan” will focus on bringing better understanding about new residents from abroad moving into Detroit and across the state, highlighting the benefits of immigrants who bring their talents and energy to our area.

“Michigan is really in a different position than other states to welcome attract and retain newcomers with new economic energy,” said Susan Reed of the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center. “We see immigrants at all skill levels are up to three times more like to start new business than US-born folks and we all benefit when that happens.”

Amin Varif came to this country from India in 1978 to study for his MBA…when his family moved to Warren, he says the first few years were not easy.

“Once people get to know you, who you are, people change,” Varif told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Ron Dewey. “If they don’t know you, they’re always suspicious … human nature.”

Varif says efforts like “Welcoming Michigan” helps remove barriers that lead to misunderstandings and fear of newcomers.

“Exposing ourselves, getting people to know you, you know, introducing (yourself), saying hello is the most important thing,” he said.

Several communities including, Hamtramck and Sterling Heights, have reached out for their help to answer misunderstandings and anxieties over immigrants moving to their towns.

Part of a national, grassroots-driven effort, “Welcoming Michigan” is a project of the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center with support from the Ford Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation. (Visit the Welcoming Michigan Facebook page).


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