Dearborn is 47 per cent Arab American with one of the largest Muslim populations in the US.
On Tuesday, as the president toured the facility to promote his infrastructure agenda, Arab American groups held three protests across the city to demonstrate against Israel’s actions in Gaza and the forced removal of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem.
The actions on Tuesday follow widespread protests across the US over the last week, including in Dearborn, calling on the US to pressure Israel to end its military strikes.
In a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, the president “expressed his support for a ceasefire and discussed US engagement with Egypt and other partners towards that end,” according to a White House description of the call.
It marked the first time that the White House had invoked mention of a ceasefire in its largely behind-the-scenes diplomatic efforts, as Israeli airstrikes have killed at least 212 people in Gaza, including 61 children, with hundreds of others wounded over the last week. At least 20 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces and settlers in the West Bank.
Hamas has fired more than 3,300 rockets toward Israeli cities and towns, killing at least 10 people, according to the Israeli Air Force.
Protests have demanded the US end its support for Israel’s military and occupation and support for
Of the roughly 266,000 people living in Michigan with Middle Eastern backgrounds, 6,800 identity as Palestinian, according to the US Census Bureau.
A group of Arab American community organisers called on Mr Biden to intervene.
Abdallah Sheikh, president of the American and Muslim Political Action Committee, said that the president “cares for justice” as he pleaded for Mr Biden to demand a ceasefire.
“We are asking him to cease the fire,” he said during a press conference in Dearborn on Tuesday. “We are asking him to end the war in Palestine. We are asking him to help.”
The American Humans Rights Council, American Muslims for Palestine, the American Center for Justice and the American-Muslim Leadership Council were also among the groups urging Mr Biden’s support.
Michigan US Rep Rashida Tlaib, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants with family in the West Bank, greeted Mr Biden upon his arrival in the state.
In remarks from the Ford facility, Mr Biden told her: “I admire your intellect. I admire your passion, and I admire your concern for so many other people.”
He added that he is praying for her family.
On Monday, she demanded the president and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to “get out of the way” of the United Nations Security Council for a ceasefire after the US blocked a statement calling for an end to the violence.
“Apartheid-in-chief Netanyahu will not listen to anyone asking nicely. He commits war crimes and openly violates international law,” she said on Twitter.