Welcoming Michigan Finds New Home at Global Detroit

After 10 successful years at the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC), Welcoming Michigan has moved to a new organizational home at Global Detroit. Over the years Welcoming Michigan has worked with community based organizations and local governments across the state to create more immigrant-friendly communities. The move came as MIRC refocused its work on immigration law and policy.

Welcoming Michigan is a statewide program aimed at fostering mutual respect and understanding among U.S.-born and foreign-born Michiganders. The project partners with organizations and institutions to promote inclusion and help both newcomers and longtime residents feel a sense of belonging in their communities. Welcoming Michigan offers education and training, raises awareness, and creates opportunities for neighbors to meet neighbors. 

“We are incredibly proud of Welcoming Michigan’s legacy and accomplishments,” said Christine Sauvé, the program’s outgoing director. “Over the years we’ve enjoyed countless meals with partners and residents, formed incredible friendships, and shared many laughs and memorable moments. We’ve faced intense anti-immigrant backlash, and countered it with the love and support of a diverse network of community leaders. We couldn’t have done it without them, and I’m heartened to know they will continue to be involved in the project moving forward. I am honored to have been able to lead the program for the past eight years and know that it will be in good hands at Global Detroit.” 

Over the years, Welcoming Michigan facilitated local committees of community leaders focused on building relationships and creating a more welcoming climate for newcomers, worked to change the dominant conversation around immigration, and hosted an annual sold-out conference where community practitioners came together to learn from each other and share best practices. The project also provides technical assistance to Michigan municipalities. These “Welcoming Cities and Counties” commit to institutionalizing policies and practices that advance inclusion and support immigrant residents. Since launching, Welcoming Michigan has hosted 385 events, reached 20,362 people, and Michigan now boasts 22 Welcoming Cities & Counties, the most of any state in the country. The program has been cited as a national leader in the field and received numerous recognitions, including from the Arcus Center for Social Justice and The New York Times, and the program’s director was honored by the Obama White House as a Champion of Change

The Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC) is a statewide legal resource center for immigrant communities and a part of the Michigan Advocacy Program (MAP). In 2010, MIRC was tapped by Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and former State Representative Steve Tobocman to lead a new local initiative based on the national Welcoming America model. This new Welcoming Michigan initiative was aimed at making Michigan more immigrant-friendly and was a recommendation of the 2010 Global Detroit study authored by Tobocman.

Welcoming Michigan was officially launched by MIRC on May 7, 2012. As MAP has grown and developed, MIRC has refocused its immigration and immigrant rights law and policy work. In light of MAP’s and MIRC’s redefined goals and intended impact, it was time to identify a new organizational home for Welcoming Michigan. 

As an early supporter of Welcoming Michigan and fellow Welcoming America member, Global Detroit was a natural fit for the program’s new home. Since the release of the Global Detroit report in 2010, the organization has led efforts to make Southeast Michigan more equitable and prosperous through immigrant inclusion. By ensuring immigrants are a vital part of our region’s community and economic development strategies, Global Detroit is building a vibrant city and thriving region with strong neighborhoods, healthy families, successful small businesses, and a rich and diverse cultural life. Maintaining an active Welcoming Michigan program is essential to this vision for success.

“It is more important than ever to ensure our communities and our state are welcoming to immigrants and refugees, and we are committed to supporting Welcoming Michigan during this transition period,” said Steve Tobocman, Executive Director of Global Detroit. “We are excited to work with Welcoming Michigan’s longtime partners to build a bright, sustainable future for the program.” 

On August 1st, 2020 Welcoming Michigan moved to its new home at Global Detroit. A Steering Committee of diverse stakeholders has been established to help guide the program’s transition. Under Global Detroit’s leadership, Welcoming Michigan will continue to build more inclusive, connected communities for newcomers and longtime residents alike. For more information, visit welcomingmichigan.org or contact the Global Detroit team.