Bring Syrian Migrants to Michigan

One million migrants filed asylum claims in Europe in 2015.

Michigan has a total population count of one million.

These refugees are searching for new homes, new jobs and new beginnings — the old ones having been taken away by war, poverty and terrorism. They flee from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Albania, Pakistan, Eritrea, Nigeria, Iran and the Ukraine.

In the next few years, 40 million more refugees are expected to follow.

Most refugees cross into Europe by crowding onto small rubber dinghies and plastic rafts or hiring out old fishing boats. Traffickers will pack as many migrants as possible onto the boats. Some of the bigger vessels can be so packed with migrants they must stand pressed tight against each other.

Weighted down by the passengers, these overcrowded boats attempt the crossing of the Mediterranean Sea. It is not an easy voyage. Waves can grow over 25 feet high — the same size as a two-story building. The journey can take several days before the boats reach land, and many ships capsize in the water.

In 2015, the deadliest year to date for migrants, such attempts to cross the sea claimed the lives of 3,770 refugees, a number only a few hundred shy of the entire student body of Calvin College. In 2014, the UN reported that one out of every 20 migrants drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean.

Despite the danger, refugees continue to make the crossing.

Back in Syria, more than 170,000 people have been killed in Iraq by ISIS, mostly Christians and Shiite Muslims. The death toll is only a little shy of the total population of Grand Rapids, 190,000.

Despite militant efforts, Boko Haram killed an estimated 20,000 people in 2014. That’s almost twice the amount of people that can fit in the Van Andel Arena at once.

Two-hundred and seventy-six girls were kidnapped from a school in Chibok by Boko Haram in April 2014. ISIS has taken an estimated 300 Yazidi women into sexual slavery. Calvin College dorms house around 300 students each year.

Most of the women have yet to be found.

There are no openly practicing Christians still living in the city of Mosul, which housed one of the oldest Christian communities on earth.

ISIS has made practicing the faith punishable by death.

There are 43,152 Christian Reformed believers living in Kent County today.

Seven-and-a-half million Syrian children are displaced from their homes, waiting for humanitarian aid. That’s the entire population of Indiana.

More than 10,000 refugee children are missing in Europe; many are feared to be victims of sex trafficking.

Over 8,000 children have crossed into European borders without the company of adults.

Eight thousand worshippers attend Ada Bible Church, one of the largest churches in the Midwest.

“Michigan is a welcoming state and we are proud of our rich history of immigration. But our first priority is protecting the safety of our residents,” said Michigan governor Rick Snyder.

“Given the terrible situation in Paris, I’ve directed that we put on hold our efforts to accept new refugees until the U.S. Department of Homeland Security completes a full review of security clearances and procedures.”

More than half of the nation’s governors agree and have stopped any immigration of Syrian immigrants. What measures need to be taken in order to ensure safe immigration remain unclear.

However, in the Detroit area, County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has planned a housing development specifically meant for Syrian refugees.

A total of 108 properties have been purchased for the project. Detroit is desperate to repopulate the city, which lost 61 percent of its population during the economic recession. New immigrants would revitalize the community, bringing skilled labor and economic renewal with them.

Though development on the project continues, Governor Snyder’s policy — backed by a newly passed bill in Washington D.C. — may make it impossible for Syrian refugees to ever resettle in Detroit, or anywhere in Michigan.

But refugees are more than numbers.

And things can change.

In order to help, write to Governor Rick Snyder, urging him to change his immigration policy regarding Syrian Refugees:

        Governor Rick Snyder
        P.O. Box 30013
        Lansing, Michigan 48909

Or volunteer with the West Michigan Refugee Center:

        2130 Enterprise St SE
        Kentwood, MI 49508


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