Rashida Tlaib

It’s no surprise that Rashida Tlaib is an advocate for improved access to human services, education and civil rights. As the first Muslim woman elected to the Michigan Legislature, she represents Southwest Detroit, where she was raised the daughter of Palestinian immigrants. She previously worked at the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) and the International Institute of Metro Detroit, where she saw first-hand the impacts of an unwelcoming system. Tlaib believes that for immigrants to choose Michigan, an atmosphere of tolerance should be cultivated. “The conversation about limiting the flow of immigration gives us the reputation of not opening our arms,” she says. “We are creating a culture in our state that is not attractive for anyone that wants to come here and invest.” One strategy that could improve the situation is the development of a statewide Welcoming America Campaign, an initiative that works with non-immigrants to help them adjust to an increasingly diverse and global world. “There are 20 different ethnicities in Southwest Detroit and there is a vibrant business community and the housing market is better than any other part of the city,” she says. “This is because it is welcoming to immigrants, and they are not singled out for their ethnicity.” Education is key to lowering barriers, says Tlaib, and seeing examples of immigrant success stories first-hand can be a significant part of the learning process. One of her constituents, an Iraqi baker, is exactly that kind of proof. “It takes so much courage to start you own business, and he had always wanted to, but he wasn’t able to do it in his native culture,” she says. “Now, he is hiring locals and helping to rebuild Detroit.”

If You Like This Post, Please Share It!

Comments are closed.