Christine Sauve, Southeast Michigan Communities Coordinator for Welcoming Michigan
At the August 19th CDAD membership meeting, we were pleased to have Christine Sauve present on the efforts of Welcoming Michigan at the state and local level. Welcoming Michigan is an immigrant integration initiative launched in 2011 by Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC) as an effort to make Michigan a more welcoming receiving community for new immigrants. Welcoming Michigan partners with community-based organizations & local governments to aid in the creation of welcoming communities for immigrants and refugees. They are a member of the national Welcoming America network. Ms. Sauve works throughout Southeast Michigan as well as statewide to support welcoming work through leadership development, community engagement, and strategic communications.
Ms. Sauve described the work of Welcoming Michigan with receiving communities including exciting efforts with community-based non profits as well as local governments through the Welcoming Cities and Counties Program. You can view the presentation slides here:
CDAD members are also invited to participate in the second statewide Welcoming Michigan Convening on September 16th, part of National Welcoming Week (Michigan Welcoming Week Events List). You can learn more and register here: 2015 Welcoming Michigan Convening.
Highlights from the Welcoming Michigan presentation:
Historically, immigrant integration has included learning English as a second language and helping immigrants through the naturalization process. These are still important activities today and Welcoming Michigan works with its partner organizations to achieve these goals. Beyond these more traditional objectives, a new aspect of immigrant integration is concerned with what receiving community members can do to aid in the immigration process.
The status of immigration policy: At this time, federal immigration reform legislation is not moving. However, the first immigrant integration plan ever for the United States was announced in November. This is a major milestone in U.S. federal immigration policy as the U.S. has long lagged behind many other nations around the world in the adoption of an immigrant immigration plan. Additionally, the Obama administration will soon be launching a Welcoming Communities campaign that Detroit has chosen to be a part of.
At the local level, there are a number of governmental initiatives aimed at helping immigrants. The City of Detroit is currently working on a language access initiative. There is also a plan to introduce a municipal ID program as an option for Detroit residents. Detroit for some time, has had an anti-profiling ordinance.
Welcoming Michigan’s philosophy centers around changing the often heated conversation around immigration issues to one of building understanding and respect among U.S. born residents and foreign born residents. Their work is largely at the local community level and involves building bridges between longtime residents and newcomers. They do this work by reaching out to the receiving community members to engage them in the process of supporting new immigrants as they make their transition.
Other Michigan immigration focused organizations: Michigan Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights (MCIRR). the Michigan Office for New Americans, http://www.globaldetroit.com/, Michigan United, and One Michigan.