Over the last 30 years, Hamtramck transformed again, to become a landing pad for Arab and Asian immigrants, notably those from Yemen and Bangladesh. A significant portion of the city’s residents today – 42% – are foreign born. More than half are believed to be practising Muslims.
The newly elected government’s makeup reflects the changing demographics in Hamtramck. The city council will include two Bengali Americans, three Yemeni Americans and a Polish American convert to Islam.
Winning 68% of the vote, Amer Ghalib will be the first Yemeni-American mayor in the US.
“I feel honoured and proud, but I know it’s a big responsibility,” Mr Ghalib, 41, said.
Born in a village in Yemen, he moved to the US when he was 17, first working in a factory making plastic car parts near Hamtramck. He later learned English and received medical training, and now works as a healthcare professional.
Rather than being a “melting pot” or “salad bowl”, Hamtramck is more like a “seven-layer cake” where different groups retain their distinct cultures while closely co-existing with each other, said city councilmember-elect Amanda Jaczkowski. “People are still proud of their culture specifically, whereas if it’s assimilation, we would lose the uniqueness.”
“When you live this close to each other, you are forced to overcome those differences, “Ms Jaczkowski, 29, said…