DETROIT (WJBK) - Michigan's elected officials pledged support to refugees and Muslim Americans on Monday. They visited refugee settlement agencies across Metro Detroit to show their solidarity and mad a pledge; "Stand strong -- respect Michigan"
Syrian Refugee Refaai Hamo will be the guest of First Lady Michelle Obama at President Barack Obama's final State of the Union address. He was lost for words on Monday.
"I cannot express my feelings it's beyond my feelings," Hamo said.
But before he heads to the nation's Capitol to meet with the President, he's sharing his story with local lawmakers who are visiting refugee resettlement agencies in Metro Detroit
"The lawmakers get in direct contact with refugees they will have the ability to put down right decisions to help both sides the Americans and the refugees," Hamo said.
Hamo fled Syria after his family's home was destroyed by a bomb and several family members including his wife were killed. Lutheran Social Services of Michigan, along with lawmakers who took a pledge to build welcoming communities in Metro Detroit, want refugees to know what services are available to them as they work to transition on U.S. soil
"We welcome refugees by welcoming them from the airport, we ensure there is an apartment or a house is ready for them," Mihela Mitrofan with Lutheran Social Services of Michiagn said.
But some Michigan lawmakers have worked to block Syrian refugees from coming to the state. In December, Fox 2 caught up with Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson who spoke out about plans for a housing development in Pontiac for Syrian Refugees that will move forward despite his opposition
"You can't let everyone in cause we will have infiltration of terrorists," Patterson said.
But State Representative Stephanie Chang says this is not the right approach to take
"It's disappointing to see other elected officials and candidates use hateful rhetoric. We need to be more welcoming," Chang said.
As Hamo continues to prepare for the national spotlight at the State of the Union address he wants people to look beyond the term refugee snd see people like him as members of society
"They are not coming as refugees we want to be productive and help American people," he said.