East Lansing declared welcoming city for Syrian refugees
East Lansing City Council unanimously approved a resolution declaring the city of East Lansing a welcoming community for Syrian refugees at the Tuesday council meeting.
"We (the city of East Lansing) have always been welcoming to refugees and I see no reason to change our philosophy towards them at this time," East Lansing Mayor Mark Meadows said.
Meadows said the history of acceptance of different backgrounds and culture in the city has allowed for a number of active community leaders — particularity from the Muslim community — to rise up and add to the experience of living in East Lansing.
Meadows said he would also like to note refugees go through rigorous screening before being allowed into the U.S.
The resolution states that everyday communities across the globe are recognizing that being welcoming makes them more economically competitive as well as more vibrant places for all residents to live.
"We can make sure that our community stands on the better side of history," the resolution states. "When we look back 10 or 20 years from now, we will remember that we weren’t hindered by our fears. Instead, we invited diverse new neighbors to join us in building a stronger community, and we all became better for it..."
Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Beier said she would be "shocked" if the majority or even a large majority of East Lansing residents were opposed to the resolution as residents in East Lansing tend to be "open minded, forward, progressive people."
The mayor pro tem said she disagrees with Governor Snyder's stance on the subject.
"I think every city or community that can contradict what our governor is saying can offset the negativity we give off at the state level," Beier said.
The views of the mayor and mayor pro tem were echoed by East Lansing resident Bob Pratt, who was the only member of the audience to speak on the subject.
Pratt said he "whole-heartily" agrees with resolution.
"The reason I live here is because we have such a diverse community, we have such a tolerant community and I am thrilled you guys (East Lansing City Council Members) are taking on this endeavor and hope to someday very soon be able to walk among refugees, not only from Syria but from all over the world," Pratt said.