Immigrants are an integral part of the U.S. and can help communities, said attendees at a national immigration conference in Detroit.
About 1,400 are at TCF Center in downtown Detroit this week for a three-day conference ending Tuesday organized by the National Partnership for New Americans, a coalition of 35 immigrant advocacy groups from 37 states, in partnership with immigrant advocacy groups in Michigan.
In cities like Detroit, African immigrants are helping revitalize neighborhoods, said Seydi Sarr, founder of the African Bureau of Immigration and Social Affairs.
They are buying homes and “are investing in places,” Sarr said. She said Dearborn is an example of a city that turned around after it saw an increase in immigrants: “Would Dearborn be the flourishing city it is today” without the influx of Arab immigrants?
“It’s easy to scapegoat someone else,” Sarr said, but the reality is that immigrants are helping Michigan.
This is the 11th annual conference held by the National Partnership for New Americans, said Eva Millona, co-chair of the conference and executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. One of the themes this year is integrating immigrants into the U.S., with organizers stressing how they are part of the U.S. and are strengthening the societies they live in by helping all Americans.
The conference features hundreds of panels and workshops on a wide range of topics: refugees, voting, driver’s licenses, naturalization, women’s leadership, health care, and the 2020 Census. Speakers talked about getting out the vote in 2020.
“Our communities underperform in terms of elections,” said Maria Rodriguez, a board member of the group organizing the conference and executive director of the Florida Immigration Coalition.