Arabs and Latinos work together for environmental justice in Michigan

The area that includes south Dearborn and southwest Detroit is densely populated, ethnically diverse, and highly industrialized — as such, it is a revealing test case for the environmental-justice movement. For at least five years now, particulate pollution in the area’s air has exceeded federal standards by anywhere from 15 to 33 percent, to the point that some public officials have suggested residents move from their homes. But residents, many of them first- and second-generation Latino and Arab immigrants for whom home ownership is part of the American dream, resist the notion. They are banding together across ethnic lines to fight for funding for studies to determine local sources of pollution and get them cleaned. “That is the only good part of all this mess,” said resident Yasser Maisari. “It is bringing all of us together.”