Some Want to Steer More Syrian Refugees to the Motor City

The paper’s editorial board noted, as did Fakhouri, that the Detroit region is already home to one of the largest Syrian refugee communities in the U.S. and has the public and private support agencies in place “with expertise in dealing with Arab newcomers.”

“In addition, Michigan has an abundance of inexpensive, available housing particularly in Detroit and its other urban centers. Detroit, with up to 80,000 abandoned structures, would benefit from refugees willing to repair and homestead those properties.”

The editorial, “Bring Them Here,” also pointed out many of the Syrians could have the skills needed to fill up to 100,000 jobs that are open because of a lack of skilled workers in the Detroit area.

However, Rep. Candace Miller (R-Mich.), whose district covers a healthy portion of suburban Detroit, is worried about the threat of terrorism.

“The U.S. has a long history of assisting refugees seeking asylum from across the globe – one that we can be proud of. However, as the migrant crisis across Europe created by fleeing Syrians continues to unfold, it is imperative that the U.S. not lose sight of the significant threat posed by extremist fighters recruited to the region by ISIS and similar-minded terrorist organizations,” Miller said in a statement.

“Syria is home to the largest convergence of Islamist terrorists, many of whom are committed to attacking the U.S. and its allies,” Miller added.

Fakhouri — who has said Obama’s goal of allowing 10,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S. is far too small — agreed with Miller that security should be a concern and all the refugees “should be screened.”

But as far as she is concerned, that is the federal government’s responsibility.

“They should screen them,” Fakhouri said. “But our issue is to deal with the humanitarian aspect of the refugees coming to America.”

David D. Laitin, a professor of political science and co-director of the Immigration and Integration Policy Lab at Stanford University, and Marc Jahr, a former president of the New York City Housing Development Corporation, co-authored an op-ed column in the New York Times in May supporting the idea of Detroit as a new home for many of the Syrian refugees.

“There is no evidence to suggest that the Detroit area is a powder keg of anti-immigrant sentiment. Quite the contrary: From its original Native Americans to the Great Migration of Southern blacks to the infusion of Hispanic and Arab immigrants, Detroit has been a melting pot of religions, ethnicities and cultures.”

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