(FOX 2) - When Basil Bacall shows off one of his two dozen hotels he owns, it's like he's letting you into his own home.
He came to America in 1982 from Iraq and didn't know a lick of English. As a Christian in the Middle East, he was persecuted and wanted a safe place to come. So he got a Visa, became a citizen here, learned the language and went to school. He then became a pilot.
Then he switched flight plans and because a businessman. In Dearborn, the Hampton Inn is one of the buildings he owns.
"Myself and my brother Mike, we own over 22 hotels and real estate properties," he said. "We employ over 1,000 people and we have over 10 projects under construction over $200 million. We are all about building and maintaining an award-winning product."
As a Dearborn businessman, he’s also proud that Wayne County was just chosen to receive the New American Economy Award. Only 13 communities in the country got the distinction.
The idea is that the cities and counties awarded have helped support the dreams of immigrants who became citizens. It's not just what the county could do for them, but what they contribute to their communities.
Wayne County Executive Warren Evans spoke about Bacall and the thousands of other Wayne County immigrants who helped earn the award.
"I tend to look at it as he is an entrepreneur is created a ton of jobs for other people," said Evans. "People who came here for an opportunity to work hard and to contribute to the fabric of our state and our county. I think this helps us very significantly with data that will help us set policy to dispel some myths that need to be dispelled."
Bacall is proud of what he's able to accomplish.
He's even started a nonprofit to help refugees escaping persecution. Bacall personally believes that both legal and undocumented workers often share a similar plight and dream, and that room should be made for both.
He thinks Wayne County received this award recognizing immigrant contributions is more worthy.
"I'm all about welcoming legal, hard-working, law-abiding immigrants," Bacall said. "We need them in a growing economy."
"It adds to the fiber of the culture of this county and the resiliency of this county," Evans said. "Because a lot of the immigrants who are here are so happy to be here."
For more information on the refugee program, click here.