Gov., local communities celebrate ‘Welcoming Week’ for immigrants

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    Many Michigan municipalities are celebrating the state’s diversity and  immigrant population at the eighth annual “Welcoming Week.” 

    The weeklong event is sponsored by Welcoming Michigan, a project of the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, a legal resource center for Michigan’s immigrant communities with branches in Washtenaw County, Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids. The project works to help the state, counties, cities and townships that declared themselves Welcoming localities to build stronger community relationships and implement inclusive policies.

    The event spanning from Sept. 13 to 22, is all about bringing communities together to celebrate diversity and create more welcoming communities for newcomers, said Welcoming Michigan Director Christine Sauvé.

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    “This year’s celebration comes at a critical moment, as many immigrant and refugee residents continue to face fear, anti-immigrant rhetoric, and policies that harm families,” Sauvé said in a statement released Thursday. “It is an important time for Michiganders to come together and show support for their immigrant and refugee friends and neighbors.”

    Welcoming Michigan and its partners are spreading awareness through a series of events, including a kick-off event with the city of Detroit, a community soccer game with Oakland County, a film screening with the city of Huntington Woods, and a cooking class hosted by Unity in Our Community Timebank.

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    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who declared Michigan a Welcoming State in February, is also a partner for the event, but it has not been released if she will be attending any events. 

    Officials from 20 localities across Michigan have partnered with Welcoming Michigan, including Wayne County, city of Detroit, Macomb County, Sterling Heights, Hamtramck, Clinton Township, West Bloomfield Township, Troy, Royal Oak, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, East Lansing, Lansing, Meridian Township, Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo County, Battle Creek, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County.

    The Advance previously reported that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) released a statement on Tuesday that reminded immigrants their rights to public benefits as Trump’s so-called “public charge rule” creeps toward the effective date on Oct. 15.

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    “Despite the challenges immigrant communities face, Welcoming Michigan is excited about new energy for welcoming in the state,” Suavé said. 

    Allison Donahue
    Allison Donahue covers education, women's issues, LGBTQ issues and immigration. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.

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