News Story

Michigan’s new growth plan: Open homes to refugees

Sponsors are expected to help refugees find housing, jobs and schooling

The Growing Michigan Together Council’s final report in December described immigration as a bright spot for Michigan’s population numbers. While 7% of Michigan residents are foreign-born, according to the latest Census data, the council said that share could double by 2050.

Last week Michigan Chief Growth Officer Hilary Doe described immigration as the green line in Michigan’s population story, the one number going up. A SEMCOG report last year found that 14,012 people aged 64 or younger left Southeast Michigan each year between 2010 and 2019, while 14,737 foreigners arrived annually.

Statewide, immigration “helps offset our out-migration a little bit,” Doe said.

In 2020, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer created the Office of Global Michigan. Four years later, that office is asking Michiganders to serve as sponsors to refugees. Refugees from Ukraine, Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela are mentioned specifically.

“The Office of Global Michigan’s goal is to make Michigan the home for opportunity for our immigrant, refugee and ethnic communities,” said Poppy Hernandez, Michigan’s Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer and Director of the Office of Global Michigan. “With expanded refugee resettlement pathways, everyday Michiganders can provide refuge and build a state where people are welcomed with open arms.”

Sponsorship can involve a variety of tasks, the state’s website explains.

Sponsors are expected to provide support to newly arrived refugees for 90 days through acts such as greeting refugee newcomers at the airport, securing and preparing initial housing, enrolling children in school and helping adults find employment,” says the Office of Global Michigan.

According to the office’s annual report for 2023, the state took in 7,583 refugees. The biggest group, at 3,500 people, was from Ukraine. Another 1,500 came from Cuba or Haiti. And 2,583 came from the federal refugee resettlement program. This was “the largest number of arrivals with humanitarian status into the state in over a decade,” says the office.

Michigan is a top-10 state for refugees.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.