The Rapidian

World Affairs Council of Western Michigan and Kent District Library partner on refugee and immigration series

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

The "Comin’ to America: Creating Community with Newcomers" series at the Kentwood branch of KDL Library will feature experts on immigration and refugee issues from local to international perspectives. This free series aims to bring open dialogue and fact-based discussion to this topic.
Underwriting support from:

Comin’ to America: Creating Community with Newcomers:

The West Michigan Response to Refugees

Susan Kragt, Executive Director of West Michigan Refugee Education and Cultural Center (WMRECC) will moderate a panel discussing the lessons learned in the process of refugee resettlement, with voices from volunteers, refugee service providers, and newcomers to West Michigan.

Monday, April 18, 6:30 p.m.


Newcomers to Michigan

Bing Goei, Director, State of Michigan Office for New Americans will present on the federal requirements to entering the United States as a refugee, and offer factual data on the economic costs and benefits to developing refugee and immigrant talent in Michigan.

Monday, April 25, 6:30 p.m.


How Canada is Resettling Syrian Refugees

The Honorable Douglas George, Consul General of Canada in Detroit will discuss how Canada is settling over 25,000 Syrian refugees, serving as a model for the rest of the world according to the United Nations.

Monday, May 2, 6:30 p.m.

The World Affairs Council of Western Michigan, in partnership with the Kent District Library, invites the public to join the conversation on this crucial topic that impacts people within our community and around the world with the "The Comin’ to America: Creating Community with Newcomers" series. Our experts will discuss at talks "The West Michigan Response to Refugees", "Newcomers to Michigan" and "How Canada is Resettling Syrian Refugees" throughout the months of April and May at the Kentwood District Library.

Here in Western Michigan, there has been a long tradition of welcoming immigrants and refugees to our community, and for the past few years, Michigan has been in the top 5 of states for resettlement of refugees. Yet, after the attacks on Paris in November 2015, many U.S. governors denounced resettlement of refugees in their states, including Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. Since then, this topic has been a touchstone in the political landscape, yet one that is often driven by rhetoric over facts.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the number of refugees and internally displaced people has reached its highest point since World War II, with almost 60 million people fleeing their homes as a result of violence. Though ongoing conflict in Syria is a driving force behind these numbers, conflicts in Afghanistan, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan and many others continue to contribute to displacement and the need for resettlement throughout the world.

By mid-2015, refugees resided in 169 countries or territories.  Currently, Turkey, Pakistan, and Lebanon host the greatest number of refugees, supporting a trend that puts the largest burden on developing countries. This has put strain on these countries and caused political turmoil among nations responding to the crisis. Yet, the displacement of people is not just cause for concern in “those” parts of the world. This refugee crisis has created ongoing conversations in the United States about our own immigration policy, especially how our laws should protect American citizens economically and from a security perspective.

Events will be held Monday evenings from 6:30-7:30PM April 18th to May 2nd at the Kentwood Branch of the Kent District Library (4950 Breton SE). The events are open to the public and free to attend—no reservations are needed. Parking is also free and convenient. For advance notice of events, the public may sign up for a free membership with the World Affairs Council by visiting or by calling 616-776-1721.

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