Markers of Non-Assimilation: Study of a City Nicknamed Dearbornistan

By Tamyra Murray
Volume 28, Number 1 (Fall 2017)
Issue theme: "The Refugee Crisis And Its Impact on the West"

“Imagine a bird kept in a tiny cage. This bird stays in the cage for twelve hundred years.”

In terms of American public opinion, support toward refugees hinges mainly upon a group’s ability to assimilate. Are refugees from particular ethnic groups more likely to become Americanized than other ethnic groups? Specifically, does familial structure predetermine resistance to assimilation?

There is no doubt that Detroit has become the metropolis of Middle Eastern resettlement across the country. Michigan’s reputation is fast becoming stigmatized by clashes of culture, clashes of religions, offensive practices (such as female genital mutilation), a push toward Sharia compliance, and questionable food and health safety standards. Should those practices be precursors of non-assimilation?

Whatever resistance to American laws that U.S. citizens foment, it actually begins before the refugee even steps foot on U.S. soil.

Joseph Kassab, former Intelligence Specialist and Congressional Consultant on refugee standards, says certain groups of refugees arriving in the United States are less likely to assimilate because freedom is something they have never experienced. They have never known freedom, never lived under democracy, and never even been free within their own family units. To them, freedom is a culture shock and something they are afraid of, like the bird in the tiny cage for twelve hundred years.

“The clashes that stem from differences of worship traditions, religion itself, culture, and politics, begins in the family units and vary from one neighborhood to the next, in far-away places such as Iraq and Syria,” says Kassab.

The refugee population that settled in Dearborn, a suburb of Detroit, has an accelerated birthrate, causing it to expand into surrounding suburbs.

Metropolitan Detroit lies to the north of Dearborn and includes the cities of Troy, Utica, and Sterling Heights. These are the suburbs people moved to thirty and forty years ago to escape the crime and congestion of downtown Detroit.

As population normally expands, so does crime. But for Metro Detroiters growing tensions stem instead from the schism between non-assimilating refugees and the community. As the growth of the city nicknamed Dearbornistan explodes, so do its conflicts.

Shouldn’t these conflicts be examined? Willing or not, Dearborn is the petri dish for the rest of the country. We should adhere to constitutional immigration policy, with the ultimate goal of bringing refugees here, on a case-by-case basis, so that they can live free — freed from persecution, freed to pursue the religion of their desires, and freed to live in peace, free from terror, and genocide. Should non-assimilation indicators be identified before people are even resettled into U.S. communities? Many Michiganders complain that we are just importing a miniature Middle East into the state instead of future Americans.

Kassab examines the likelihood of assimilation by a comparison of two separate households in the Near East. On the one hand there is a household where there is one rule maker. There is only one person who tells everyone else in the family what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. There is no questioning of this ruler and whatever they say goes, no matter what.

Next, let’s take a look at a family living across town, in the same community, but with a different type of power structure. This family functions as a group. There is no one ruler, and there is more than one boss in the family. Everyone is assigned different tasks by different heads of the household.

The one family would be ruled like a dictatorship and the other like a democracy. Which one would you suppose is more likely to assimilate with America’s style of government and laws? Which one would you suppose to comply more closely with Sharia? The dictatorship would be typical of a Muslim home, and the democratic one typical of a Christian home.

Some Muslim families understand next to nothing about the Christian-based family, and many don’t want to know, just like the bird in the tiny cage. There can be dictatorial and democratic homes in the same town, but the numerical majority, organized to impose their way, holds power over smaller, unorganized groups. Power shifts from democracies to dictatorships once the populace is replaced with more and more dictator or “regime”-style households.

It is not a problem yet in America, but we will begin to see it unfold in the future of Dearborn the more the birthrate increases among the Muslim community. They have 8.1 children per household compared to the Christians, who have a much lower birth rate, somewhere about 2.1 per family. Given these birthrate trends, Dearborn will come to resemble some of the European communities that Douglas Murray vividly describes in his book, The Strange Death of Europe.

So if we parallel refugee resettlements in Detroit to the same ethnic populations in the Middle East, it becomes very apparent why the Muslim refugees settled in Dearborn and the Christian refugees settled across town in the northern suburbs.

Kassab explained that four sects of Muslims exist in Michigan:Sunni, Shi’ite, Moderate Muslims, and Militant Muslims. Just as with the Muslim sects we also have Christian sects. Most of the Christian refugees are Catholic, but within the Catholic sect there are subgroups that are Assyrian Catholics, Romanian Catholics, and Egyptian Catholics. They each have their own established churches. For example, Christians are Evangelicals, Protestants, and some Non-Denominational Christians too.

Just like back home, all the sects can live in the same town, under two main subgroups. Muslims and Christians. We are just beginning to see problems here because one group is gaining more power than the others and flexing its muscle.

Do Moderate Muslims exist? In America, Moderate Muslims are those who have successfully assimilated and adopted U.S. cultural folkways and traditions, are proficient in English, and respect American customs and social norms. But in the Middle East, under Sharia law, Moderates do not exist. Moderate Muslims in Michigan practice the teachings of the Koran, they know what is in it, what it says, but because they want to live in harmony with non-Muslims, they can pick and choose the parts of the Koran that they want to follow. If you take the same Moderate Muslim, and place them in Iraq, they are no longer Moderates, and can be persecuted for not following the doctrine of Sharia.

Can we assume then that refugees arriving peacefully in the U.S. will be forced into non-assimilation practices once their populace outnumbers native Michiganders?

The President’s annual report to Congress recognizes that in Iraq Shia Muslims face increased violence as a religious sect, but in Syria it is the Sunni Muslims that are listed as a threat to the government. And in Iran Sunnis are listed as facing discrimination, harassment, or arrest. Always, the group on the receiving end of violence is the minority.

What the federal government fails to understand is that the shifts in power and persecution are ever-changing circumstances influenced by growing or declining populations within neighborhoods, regions, and countries.

If we parallel the Near East to the Middle Eastern community in Detroit, can we draw conclusions about the probable clashes with American culture and make assumptions of non-assimilation issues in Michigan?

The President’s report focuses on ceilings from regions and generalized persecution.

The report boasts of settling 88,000 Iraqi refugees between 2007 and 2013. More recent reports justify increasing Syrian refugees and aid to the region.

Syrian Refugees

The Refugee crisis caused by the conflict in Syria is the worst the world has witnessed in a generation with more than 2.9 million refugees in the region. More than 9 million people need assistance including 6.5 million displaced inside Syria. The U.S. government is deeply committed to assisting the Syrian people and has provided more than $2 billion in humanitarian assistance since the start of the crisis, more than any other donor. While the vast majority of Syrians would prefer to return home when the conflict ends, we recognize that some remain extremely vulnerable in their country of asylum and would benefit from resettlement. UNHCR [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] has announced that it aims to refer 30,000 Syrian refugees to all resettlement countries by the end of calendar year 2014. Those numbers will likely rise in 2015 and 2016. The United States has received more than 2,500 referrals as of August 2014 and expects thousands more in the remainder of the year. We will begin to welcome those Syrians who are approved for U.S. resettlement to communities across the country in larger numbers in 2015.”

In the last ten years, Michigan usually has settled a little over 4,000 refugees per year. It is safe to assume that most of those settlers join family members in a city that already has bulging borders. Refugees are free to relocate after a six-month initial placement.

The Clarion Project details the plight of persecution in the Middle East in a documentary that was presented on July 28, 2017, in West Bloomfield, a far northern suburb of Metro Detroit. A full audience packed the ballroom to listen to speakers from the Clarion Project and watch the movie.

The documentary Faithkeepers explains religious persecution more in depth than the refugee resettlement guidelines document. The Clarion Project describes the last century in the Middle East as a time of Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide. They explain that what the world is not being told about is the persecution and that it is a Genocide aimed at wiping Christians off of the face of the earth. Is this out of ignorance or is the truth being withheld from the world purposely? Either way these are factors that should be considered in U.S. refugee admittances — factors that predetermine non-assimilation.

Are we importing the same non-assimilating perpetrators that will ultimately result in persecution of Christians in America? Should the perpetrators of genocide be denied entry to the U.S.?

Applying common sense to a complex issue will foretell of more clashes or non-assimilation crisis to come.

Is it naive to think we should import a lot of people from all over the world and assume they are going to arrive ready and willing to be just like native-born Americans? But that is exactly what we do, then we act shocked when people start slaughtering goats in their front yards.

What is considered barbaric and unacceptable to Michiganders is hidden from their knowledge. Law enforcement officers patrolling the Detroit suburbs are discouraged from sharing their experiences with the public.

Acts of terror are a solid indicator of non-assimilation. In the last eight years, law enforcement was pressured to purposely miscategorize those acts to avoid scrutiny from the public eye.

Many departments no longer train officers to recognize acts of terror for what they are. If those acts aren’t recorded or tallied how can we gauge and identify problems of non-assimilation and keep the public safe from future acts?

It is taboo and even considered inflammatory for officers to speak of disgusting traditions they see. What would you think if you were awaken at 1 a.m. by your neighbor yelling Allahu Akbar, looking out your window to see him slitting the throat of a goat on his front lawn, blood squirting everywhere? One officer responding to such a call was told by superiors that it was part of a religious ceremony, to leave the man alone, and forbade the officer from issuing the man a ticket or prevent the man from practicing his religion. How would you like to be that neighbor?



Or, how about being afraid to dine at local restaurants and not going out to eat anymore? One woman from Sterling Heights no longer dines at restaurants around the Metro Detroit area. She describes the time she was waiting with friends to be seated for dinner. “Up pulls this beat-up car and out hops this man of Middle Eastern descent, who pops open the trunk and pulls out this box that is falling apart. He accidentally drops the box, the lid goes flying, and meat falls out onto the pavement. There is blood dripping all over the seams of this box and all over the meat. He picks up the fallen meat, throws it back into the box and heads into the restaurant’s back door. You can’t tell me that meat was inspected by USDA?”

Halal? Signs boasting “Halal sold here” are popping up all the way from Detroit to Lansing, as if it were the new health craze. If people knew the process behind Halal, it might not be overlooked as insignificant.

Halal is the label given to meat that is slaughtered according to Islamic rule. The animal to be slaughtered must first be prayed over, the most common prayer “Bismillahi-Allahu Akbar or Allah Akbar” is exclaimed, and then the animal’s throat is slit and the animal is forced to bleed out until it dies. The entire process is considered part of a religious ceremony. Is Halal meat locally butchered subject to the same health standards that currently protect Michiganders? Or are Halal butchering sites given a free pass under the guise of religious reasons?

Can we expect that the same people who get away with slaughtering goats in their front yards at 1 a.m. will also be exempt from laws that you and I must follow?

There is more and more tension between native Detroiters and refugee populations as Detroiters see more and more of their own rights dwindling to accommodate non-assimilating refugees.

Clashes between refugee religious sects are also on the rise because of non-assimilating refugees, causing one sect to flex its muscle over the others. It seems the more non-assimilating refugees we import, the more the Michigan legislature is kept busy trying to protect Michiganders from barbaric and medieval practices.

This year Representative Michele Hoitenga from Northern Michigan drafted what became known as the FGM bill, HB 4636 Female Genital Mutilation Prohibition Legislation. You wouldn’t think in today’s modern world one would need to even be protected from a practice so barbaric, that sometimes in the Middle East, by tradition, it is performed using only sharp rocks!

The Michigan legislature’s official page describes female genital mutilation as Procedures of Clitoridectomy, infibulation, or other female genital mutilation.

Legislators both Republican and Democrat came together to support anti-FGM in Michigan after it was discovered that the Burhani Medical Clinic in Livonia had been performing FGM and that girls from as far away as Minnesota were being brought to the Detroit suburb for operations at the clinic.

News initially reported four victims, but during court proceedings in June, prosecutors raised speculation that more than 100 girls had been victims of the practice at the clinic. How can we ever know how many victims there are?

How can we locate future victims of FGM if a family is abiding by a strict set of ideals which do not include western ideology, and are cloaked in secrecy?

Rep. Hoitenga answered: “I would say that it is difficult to locate future victims without ‘profiling’ people, in which profiling is illegal but we must provide educational materials to anyone migrating to the U.S. from countries where FGM is widely accepted and encouraged. Perhaps it would be part of the immigration process. If certain sects who practice FGM do not know any different, then we must educate them on the reasons it is so wrong and considered an inhumane act in our great country.”

Other bills in the Michigan legislature included E-verify, Anti-Sanctuary Prohibition Act, and American Law for American Courts.

Getting back to what Kassab said about education being the key, education in the Middle East is what happens within a family unit and begins at the early age of one year old. If you are to change attitudes of a generation, you must start with the children.

Refugees under the age of five who enter the U.S. comprise only 2.2 percent of total refugees from the Middle East, and of school age children between the ages of 5 and 17 comprise only 11.7 percent of resettled refugees according to the President’s report. How can we improve assimilation if we are overlooking the youngest, most vulnerable group within refugee groups? If education is constitutionally mandated as part of the immigration process, shouldn’t that education happen when it can make a difference?

The criteria for U.S. asylum should be revamped: they have to examine non-assimilation factors as they relate to the family structure. The U.S. should accept refugees on a case-by-case basis. The deciding factors on refugee admissions should be grounded on what supports the overall well-being for municipal communities, which should also further our national interest rather than undermining the bonds that unify America’s national character.

About the author

Tamyra Murray is the Founder and President of Michiganders for Immigration Control and Enforcement (MICE).