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L. Brooks Patterson wants to stop Syrian refugee center in Pontiac

Sarah Hulett
Michigan Radio

Oakland County’s top elected official, L. Brooks Patterson, is demanding the city of Pontiac stop a new housing development and community center being built for Syrian refugees.

Patterson says accepting any Syrian refugees carries an “immediate threat of imminent danger” after the recent attacks in Paris – even though it’s unclear whether any of the attackers were Syrian refugees.

In fact, Patterson says he'd like the U.S. to stop accepting any refugees or tourists from anywhere in the Middle East.

"I don't think I'm worried about Western Europe, uh, traditional Western Europeans, but I will single out the Middle East,” he says.

Ismael Basha is one of the organizers of the proposed refugee center in Pontiac, and is himself Syrian. 

He says the few Syrians who are allowed into the U.S. go through a stringent vetting process.

"Somebody needs to reach out and help those people," he says. "And that's exactly what we are doing."

Basha says the refugee center would also help Syrians who are already in the U.S.

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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