Senior Biden administration aides will travel to Michigan on Thursday to hear directly from Muslim and Arab American community leaders on their top issues and concerns, including, most notably, the Israel-Hamas war and civilian casualties in Gaza.
The White House teased the upcoming visit to Michigan when President Joe Biden traveled to Detroit last week for a labor-focused event with the United Auto Workers union.
A White House official told NBC News on Wednesday that the administration officials traveling to Michigan on Thursday include Steve Benjamin, senior adviser to the president and director of the Office of Public Engagement; Tom Perez, senior adviser and director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs; Jon Finer, principal deputy national security adviser; Samantha Power, USAID administrator; Jamie Citron, principal deputy director of the Office of Public Engagement; Dan Kosh, director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs; and Mazen Basraw, National Security Council director for partnerships and global engagement.
The meeting with Muslim and Arab American community leaders in Detroit is a White House-driven event. Biden campaign officials are not planning to participate at this time.
Biden has met with leaders who hold various opinions about the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, and White House officials have been in regular contact with Muslim and Arab American leaders in Michigan and nationwide, a White House official said.
Biden has been under pressure to respond more aggressively to the civilian death toll in Gaza, which surpassed 27,000 this month, according to local health authorities. The U.S. began sending humanitarian aid to Gaza in November and Biden had also pushed Congress to pass a bipartisan immigration deal that included further aid for Palestinians in Gaza.
CNN was the first to report Thursday’s trip to Michigan.
Biden administration officials’ meeting with Muslim and Arab Americans on Thursday is the latest episode in their outreach to the community as the president continues to face criticism for his response to the Israel-Hamas war.
The president also quietly hosted a meeting with a handful of Muslim leaders in October, according to four sources familiar with the White House gathering, amid pressure from the Arab American community over what they viewed as his disregard for the deaths of Palestinian civilians and domestic threats as a result from the Israel-Hamas war.