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Stanford Prof: Send Syrian Refugees to Detroit

Stanford Prof: Send Syrian Refugees to Detroit

Is that really an upgrade?

I don’t know what should be done with refugees from Syria but this proposal from Stanford professor David Laitin seems like cruel and unusual punishment.

CBS News of Detroit:

Stanford Professor: Let Refugees From War-Torn Syria Settle In Detroit

What to do with refugees from war-torn Syria? Send them to Detroit!

That’s the message Thursday from a Stanford University political science professor in the New York Times.

David Laitin writes in an opinion piece titled “Let Syrians Settle Detroit” that refugees traumatized by war usually turn out to be good citizens.

“Suppose these two social and humanitarian disasters were conjoined to produce something positive,” Laitin says.

Laitin notes that Syrians have set up thousands of shops at a refugee camp in Jordan and writes that Detroit’s large American Arab population would help them assimilate.

You can read Professor Laitin’s piece in the New York Times here:

Let Syrians Settle Detroit

Detroit, a once great city, has become an urban vacuum. Its population has fallen to around 700,000 from nearly 1.9 million in 1950. The city is estimated to have more than 70,000 abandoned buildings and 90,000 vacant lots. Meanwhile, desperate Syrians, victims of an unfathomable civil war, are fleeing to neighboring countries, with some 1.8 million in Turkey and 600,000 in Jordan.

Suppose these two social and humanitarian disasters were conjoined to produce something positive.

Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan, a Republican, has already laid the groundwork. In January 2014 he called for an infusion of 50,000 immigrants as part of a program to revitalize Detroit, and signed an executive order creating the Michigan Office for New Americans.

Syrian refugees would be an ideal community to realize this goal, as Arab-Americans are already a vibrant and successful presence in the Detroit metropolitan area.

Why not let American citizens revitalize Detroit?

Oh wait.

On a final note, maybe Stanford professors should be more worried about Stanford.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons.


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Thousands of un-vetted “refugees” in one area. What could go wrong.

Ah Detroit … that shining example of decades of black, democratic rule … looks like they’re having nice weather.

    DaveGinOly in reply to walls. | May 15, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    The only ways I could tell the photo was of Detroit and not Syria was the lack of rubble in the streets and that the buildings are still standing. Otherwise, Syrian refugees should feel right at home – it has that “bombed out” aura while still being intact and ready for revitalization.

pablo panadero | May 15, 2015 at 8:13 am

Have the professor ever been to Dearborn? You are really stretching the definition of “assimilate”.

9thDistrictNeighbor | May 15, 2015 at 8:14 am

Oh, charming idea. Yeah, begging the question of why we need to accommodate tens of thousands of people who will undoubtedly fail to assimilate—is putting them a stone’s throw from Dearborn such a great idea? Climb back in to that ivory tower of yours, foolish man.

Economists know that consolidating two failing businesses yields a third failing business. Why would sending people from a failed state to a failed city work any better?

    Sammy Finkelman in reply to Valerie. | May 15, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    The fact that Syria is a failed state isn’t their fault.

    Economically, this would make sense.

    The problem is:

    1) Worry about if any of them are Islamists (most are not, and if you had a half a grain of common sense, which is asking for a lot, that’s true, you could screen them out. There won’t be too many since terrorist groups don’t send people to refugee camps, except for permanent ones) It is also possible to be very stupid and select FOR supporters of terrorism.


    2) What is this proposal implying about urban American blacks?

    But this is a whole lot better than tearing down buildings.

    Another question is: Shouldn’t they be warned about the crime?? This could come close to recruiting crime victims.

Henry Hawkins | May 15, 2015 at 8:55 am

Stanford professor David Laitin’s charming suggestion is made easier by the fact he lives 2500 miles from Detroit.

American Human | May 15, 2015 at 9:17 am

Lets send them to Iran!

My idea to fix Detroit: Give it to Canada.

How ’bout we let refugees from war-torn Syria settle in Saudi Arabia?

I mean, WTF…???

Multiculturalism run amuck?

“detroit” is French for strait, or water separating two larger bodies of water. The Detroit River and the strait of Mackinaw (between Michigan and Huron) were strategic military points during the early history of America.

There is a lot of freighter traffic in the Great Lakes as well as there are many locks from Superior through the St. Lawrence Seaway. All of these areas would have security issues.

Free education at Stanford suits me.

Henry Hawkins | May 15, 2015 at 10:44 am

David Laitin: “I think it would be a good idea to put the refugees waaaay over there, in a place where’s there’s no one left to object.”

bob aka either orr | May 15, 2015 at 11:50 am

How about if we limited it to Syrian Christians and Jews who want to come to the U.S.? Get those who want out of the hellhole and are willing to become Americans as the early 20th century immigrants did. Then, I might go for it.

    Sammy Finkelman in reply to bob aka either orr. | May 15, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    There aren’t a significant number of Jews left in Syria, and most would be in areas now under Assad’s control (by the way, there is apparently a feeling building in Damascus that his government is going to fall soon, possibly brought about by the proposed Iranian strategy of saving himself by attacking Israel)

    But heer are alot of Christians, and other minority groups, or people just in such a situation that you know they are not affiliated with any terrorist groups.

    The screening process is a nightmare – the U.S. screening process seems to find it very difficult and time consuming to pass people who worked as interpreters for U.S. soldiers in Iraq even after being vetted or endorsed by people they worked for.

    They could just ask them a few test questions (making sure the answers are recorded) about Israel and Jews and that might be enough.

Phillep Harding | May 15, 2015 at 4:06 pm

Might work, if they are allowed to possess/carry handguns.

A substantial fraction of Syrian Christians have already been killed off or chased, but there are still a lot who could be saved. It does not seem that Laitin has this group in mind though. This is confirmed by his suggestion that we take “1.8 million in Turkey and 600,000 in Jordan.” ALL of those would be Muslim. Turkey and Jordan are not open to Christian refugees.

Why are these Muslims displaced? Because their co-religionists are fighting on the side of ISIS to try to oust Assad. That means there is already a state right there (in addition to Jordan and Turkey) ready to take them: the new ISIS caliphate.

Yes there are SOME moderate Muslims in Syria, but there is no Islamic reform movement and these moderate Muslims would be the LEAST persecuted people in the region. They just have to keep their heads down.

The group that is really in need of a refuge are Syrian Christians, who are facing genocide every day and who cannot hide, but Laitin obviously does not have this group in mind. One of the great tragedies of Obama’s re-election. Romney would have saved the Arab Christians. Obama wants them to be exterminated.

buckeyeminuteman | May 16, 2015 at 1:48 pm

What we need in America, more Muslims…

This is a VERY, VERY bad idea. The area outside of Detroit is already heavily settled by Iranian and Persian immigrants.

Dearborn MI, and Hamtramck, MI (kind of a suburb of Detroit) have huge densities of Muslim population already. An enormous influx of Syrian refugees will be a match in an already overfull tinderbox.

I went to law school not so very long ago with several individuals who were FROM the populations in Dearborn and Hamtramck. Those individuals spoke English, but they informed us that the communities in Dearborn and Hamtramck were enforcing the learning of Farsi and enforcing Muslim traditional values (although they were keeping the enforcement under the radar).