Highland Park mayor: Humanitarian crisis is here, not just Syria

It is a humanitarian crisis but some say it isn't just in Syria, it is right here in metro Detroit. The Highland Park Mayor Deandre Windom says the people of his city are in need of rescue too.

"I'm not wanting to speak any bad words about the crisis but as you see, we have a crisis here in our city," Windom said.

With half his residents living at or below the poverty line, an unemployment rate more than triple the state of Michigan's, Windom says Syrian refugees aren't the only ones having a tough go.

"You have people living without lights, living without gas, living without water, living without shelter,"

That's why he's taking issue with the push to resettle refugees in metro Detroit and tax payers footing the bill for the benefits they'll receive.

"Where are those resources for the people that are here," he said. "Like, what about us."

Some would argue that sentiment is compounding the plight of refugees. Most have yet to resettle after being denied entry into many countries and families like Tariq Awal Wahid's are scattered.

"Three members of my family left to Germany," he said. "And I still have some people in Turkey at the Syrian Turkish border and I have another sister still in Lebanon."

Wahid left Syria before the uprising against President Bashar Al Assad. Four of his cousins died during the fighting before his family could get out.

"It was really bad," he said. "There's no electricity, no fuel, no food, nothing."

But Windom says the same can be said on a smaller scale, for people here.

"It is neighborhoods in Detroit that need the same attention," he said. "It's neighborhoods in Hamtramck, River Rouge, Pontiac, Benton Harbor. Look at Flint; it took them a year to do something about the water issues up there."

Osama Sibliani is the editor of Arab-American News

FOX 2: "Is that a valid point?"

"Of course," Siblani said. "You have to help your own first. But that doesn't prevent us from helping others as well. I would tell the mayor to go and read what is on Ellis Island.

"'Give me your poor, give me your hungry.'"

Gov. Rick Snyder has been in talks with the federal government about resettling Syrian refugees in Detroit. But he also said it could take two years to do background checks.

About 1,500 Syrians are due to come into the country this year.

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