Governor Jack Markell, the White House Official for Operation Allies Welcome, met with state and local leaders yesterday to learn more about Michigan’s best in-state practices to step forward, support and welcome Afghan Allies and other immigrants.

(pictured from L to R: Chelsea Lafferty, Gov. Markell, Judi Harris, Andrea Seyka)

“We are all very honored for our program to be recognized.  I am so proud of my hard-working, dedicated team and grateful to be able to welcome these wonderful people,” said Judi Harris, STVCC’s Director of Refugee Services.

“I want to thank Judi and her team at St. Vincent Catholic Charities who is doing an extraordinary job,” said Markell during his press conference yesterday.  “I came to Michigan, particularly Lansing, because of the reputation that they’ve already developed in terms of the innovation and the support that your city and your state are providing to the folks of Afghanistan.”

With a history of welcoming refugees and other immigrants to our state and providing them with the resources they need to succeed, Gov. Whitmer and the Office of Global Michigan remain committed to making Michigan a more welcoming state.

“Refugees and immigrants bring a tremendous wealth of culture and economic impact to our communities, and we stand ready to support them and help them survive and thrive here in Lansing,” said Andy Schor, Lansing Mayor. “We look forward to continuing our efforts and partnerships to create a vibrant ecosystem that supports refugee and community wellness in Michigan.”

State Refugee Coordinators continue to coordinate and leverage state and local resources, working with local resettlement and other agencies throughout the state to ensure new arrivals are welcomed and well-positioned to attain self-sufficiency and integrate into their communities.

School districts across the state also serve as vital partners to ensure all students and their families have the academic and career readiness skills needed for success in their new home.

“We are focused on welcoming newcomers to Lansing, and how we can help them learn and grow and find a path that’s right for them,” said Benjamin Shuldiner, Lansing School District Superintendent. “We provide promising pathways for each and every student so they have the solid career and academic readiness skills that prepare them for success in their new community.

STVCC has already resettled 105 arrivals.

“What’s interesting about the resettlement process, it’s not an easy thing to do,” said Markell. “What has to happen is Judi has to work with the local community and the school district to say ‘how many kids can the school district accept?’, ‘is there housing available for families?’. It’s highly involved, it’s highly personal.”

Michigan has committed to accepting up to 1,600 refugees by the end of the year. At this time, Michigan has already welcomed 275.

“I look forward to taking your story on the road so the entire country can learn from you,” said Markell.

The full press conference can be viewed from our Facebook Live stream.