Bringing stability to West Michigan families and communities through legal services, education, and advocacy.
Strong communities in the twenty-first century take intentional steps to connect and actively include people of all backgrounds. It is only through these conditions that communities are able to meet their highest civic and economic potential, unleashing the power of their greatest asset—their people. As Ottawa County and the greater West Michigan region looks to harness the wealth and vibrancy that comes from diverse talents and a more global workforce, areas that are more welcoming and inclusive to these new populations will set themselves apart. Lighthouse’s founder recognized the value of welcoming and including immigrants and refugees in West Michigan and took steps to do more to make this region more welcoming and inclusive. Diverse demographic groups are already present in West Michigan; the task is to do more to welcome them, which includes meeting their complex legal and psychosocial needs.
Michigan’s large immigrant population adds to the state’s vibrant cultural and ethnic diversity, generating forward momentum in our communities and economy. In the United States today, there are 37 million immigrants, making up 12 percent of the total US population. Of those, 35 percent are naturalized citizens; 33 percent are residents; two percent are here with some type of temporary status; and 31 percent are undocumented.
In Michigan, 9,270,486 people are US-born and 652,090 are foreign-born. Of those 652,090, approximately 150,000 (or 23 percent) are undocumented. Importantly, Michigan ranks among the top five states accepting refugees. In 2016, Michigan welcomed more than 5,000 refugees. The key to maintaining and supporting the momentum immigrants bring to Michigan is to provide services that welcome, include, and aid these immigrant communities as they seek to make a home in Michigan.