The Importance of Helping Refugees Build a New Life


Join Transitions Legal for our monthly Take Action: Lunch and Learn
June 8, 2017 | 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
at the Law Offices of Alisa Peskin-Shepherd
280. N. Old Woodward Avenue, Suite LL20 | Birmingham, MI 48009

Mihaela Mitrofan has worked for Samaritas’ Refugee Resettlement program since 1996, currently serving as Program Manager in Southeast Michigan. Mihaela has led numerous initiatives with public and private service communities to best serve refugees in the Metro Detroit area. She holds a B.A. in Literature from Babes-Bolyai University in Romania. Mihaela loves to spend her free time gardening, listening to music, and adventuring outdoors.  
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The Story of Refugees

About 3 million refugees have been resettled in the U.S. since Congress passed the Refugee Act of 1980, which created the Federal Refugee Resettlement Program and the current national standard for the screening and admission of refugees into the country [1].

Michigan is a top destination for refugees, welcoming 2,029 of the 18,908 Syrian refugees settled in the U.S. since the beginning of 2015. During the same period, a total of 169,241 refugees from around the world came to the U.S., with Michigan as the fourth largest destination for resettlement. Our state has welcomed a total of 8,015 refugees since the beginning of 2015 up until January of 2017 [2].

While refugees apply for asylum when they can no longer safely remain in their home country, immigrants apply willingly to leave a safe homeland to begin a new life somewhere else. A common myth about immigration is that most immigrants are here illegally. However, there are 40.2 million immigrants in the U.S. and 72% of immigrants are in the U.S. legally [3].

Refugees come here seeking protection and a chance to build a new life. They are eager to learn, work and become productive contributors to society. As they settle, they build businesses, create jobs, revitalize neighborhoods, fuel the economy and strengthen the tax base, enriching communities [4].

Refugees and immigrants are people..and every person has a story. Stories of family and friends. Stories of love and loss. Stories of rebuilding hope and establishing self-sufficiency in a new land.

Welcoming Refugees

Support locally-driven efforts to create a more welcoming, immigrant-friendly environments. Work with local governments and community leaders to maximize opportunities to build mutual respect among receiving community members and immigrants & refugees, as well as foster an inclusive environment essential to growth.

Many immigrants and longer-term residents have limited meaningful contact with each other. While they may live in the same cities or towns, their lives may not intersect in significant ways in the workplace, in schools, or in their neighborhoods. Among other factors, language and cultural barriers may contribute to an environment in which both immigrants and longer-term residents feel some level of discomfort with each other. Methods for bringing community members together to promote meaningful contact are critical to build the foundation for a more welcoming community [5].