Warren, MI Mayor to Feds: Send Iraqis elsewhere

Mayor Mark Steenbergh of Warren, MI reacted with shock and anger to learn that the US State Department, with the help of Lutheran Social Services, planned to begin resettlement of Iraqi refugees in this Detroit suburb very soon.

Many of us have found this to be a common practice.  The Federal government just drops the bombshell announcement and pretty much says, too bad to local concerns about schools, housing, welfare, and jobs.

 My biggest concern is where the refugees will find employment. Longtime Warren residents are having trouble finding jobs, said the Mayor.

Detroit News, July 19, 2007  http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070719/METRO03/707190375

In an increasingly common refrain, small and medium-sized city leaders are asking where the financial help will come from to support a tide of immigrants from half way around the world.

According to the Macomb Daily today, Steenbergh is correct that unemployment is very high in the whole state.


The unemployment rate in Michigan rose to 7.2 percent in June, the highest point this year, the state announced Wednesday. The state jobless rate in May of 6.9 percent already was the highest in the country.


It’s kind of surprising to see the State Department and the non-profit “church” group attempt to resettle refugees in communities with high unemployment since they told us in Hagerstown, MD that job availability is a key factor in deciding where refugees will be sent.

Also, it is not clear from these articles what portion of the Iraqi refugees will be Muslim.   Certainly the Iraqi Christians are being decimated in Iraq and are truly persecuted by both the Shiites and the Sunnis. 

Since the Detroit area has one of the largest Muslim populations in the country it seems like sheer idiocy to bring Christian Iraqis to live alongside those who persecuted them in their homeland.

It’s almost pretty much useless to contact elected federal officials, especially on the Democratic side, in seeking help.   Rep Sander Levin, whose district covers part of Macomb County, released a press statement on hearing of the controversy.  

Rep. Sander Levin immediately refuted the claims by Warren officials.

“The information released today by the city of Warren is inaccurate and misleading,” Levin said in a news release. He said his office was told Wednesday by the State Department that those 25,000 Iraqis would be relocated over a number of years and in nine different regions of the country.

I called the State Department seeking confirmation of the statement about nine regions and where exactly they were and was told that my inquiry was referred to the…..

“public affairs office for clarification and someone will get back to you in the next day or two.”

Where are the nine regions you ask?  Well, at a meeting in Hagerstown, MD this week, a representative of Virginia Council of Churches said that Harrisonburg, VA is an approved “Iraqi receiving area”… so that’s two….Warren, MI and Harrisonburg, VA…Only seven to go!

More when we get it!

My recommendation for answers, if refugee resettlement is coming to your community, is to call the US State Department directly (see contact info. in the Fact Sheet at the top of this blog)  and don’t rely on your Democratic Senators and Congressmen (they will be useless, and you will waste time while you think they are doing something).  Take action by going directly to the people.  Get a grassroots letter writing campaign going to the local newspapers and TV stations. 


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