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Jun 24, 2019

Update--Support Refugee Children

Once—and if—families are able to enter the U.S., they face detention in the infamous ‘icebox’ detention centers for an uncertain period of time, navigating an impenetrably complex and shifting system. Released into the U.S. while asylum claims are processed, families have often been left at bus stations with little or no information or guidance on what to do next, and in most cases, little to no monetary resources, after having exhausted their monetary resources on the long journey to the U.S. Because of backlogs in the immigration courts, it now takes on average of three years for an asylum case to be decided, with asylum applicants assuming the burden of legal fees for representation, compounding heightened risks of exploitation over the waiting period.

Leveraging decades of experience supporting refugees in the U.S., the IRC has developed outcomes-driven programming to provide asylum-seeking families with critical support both at the moment they are released from federal custody along the border, as well as in their final destination locations where they are awaiting the outcome of their immigration court proceedings.

In Phoenix, Arizona the IRC is providing critical temporary support, such as overnight shelter, clothing, meals, and transportation coordination, for families in the short period between their release from federal custody and the continuation of their journey to reunite with relatives in the U.S. We are using the shelter stay to improve longer-term outcomes for families as well, by providing them with information and guidance on their legal process. We have also adapted safety and mental health assessments for the rapidly evolving environment of an emergency transitional shelter to identify families in particularly vulnerable situations and provide tailored follow-up support.

With additional funding we are seeking to increase capacity to offer comprehensive case management and legal orientations to asylum-seeking families throughout our network of 24 U.S. offices, with a focus on helping families achieve stability as they await the outcome of their immigration and asylum proceedings. With the Trump Administration’s termination of the community-based Family Case Management Program (FCMP), there are currently no federally supported services or infrastructure to support asylum seekers. Services we can offer/are currently offering in these destination sites include:

  • Individualized service planning: Helping asylum seekers to overcome barriers to services related to food security, housing, health care, child care and preschool, English-language studies, job readiness, and financial counseling.
  • In-home psychological support: Providing asylum seekers psychosocial education, conducting psychosocial screenings, and identifying appropriate therapeutic support services.
  • Temporary housing support: Helping asylum-seeking families to secure temporary housing in response to the increasing trend of relatives with uncertain immigration status declining to host asylum seekers due to fear of reprobation from immigration enforcement agents.
  • Legal and social services: In Dallas, partnering with RAICES, Texas’ largest immigration legal service provider, to provide holistic legal and social services to children and their parents separated by the administration’s ”Zero Tolerance” policy. Other offices have developed networks of legal partnerships, and all offices orient families through the complex immigration legal system.

Through additional private financial partnerships, we seek to expand our comprehensive case management for asylum-seeking families in their new communities, working with local partners to develop evidence-based models that maximize opportunities to improve longer-term outcomes for the families we serve.

Additionally, under the federal Unaccompanied Children’s (UAC) Program, we are assisting children from Central America who have come to the U.S. to seek protection on their own, often with the intention of reuniting with family members residing in the U.S. That work includes:

> Information, training, and guidance for children and their sponsors

> Referrals to legal services organizations and legal providers to help with asylum claims

> Home visits with foster parents to ensure the safety of minors.

As policy decisions and conditions impacting asylum-seeking families shift, the IRC is prepared to respond to the most urgent needs. Your flexible support will allow us to rapidly evolve our response to ensure the most vulnerable people affected are met with the most timely and effective care. Thank you for your support.

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Jun 6, 2019

Update--Help Families Fleeing Crisis Rebuild

Each day hundreds of families cross the border from Mexico to the United States in search of safety and security. U.S. policy changes mean an increasing number of people are stuck in Mexican border towns while others are being forcibly returned under the administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy. These new policy changes mean an increasing number of people are stuck on the U.S.-Mexico border. The U.S. and Mexico border spans almost 2,000 miles. People living all along the border, but particularly in the eastern portion, are struggling to survive the crime and violence associated with criminal gangs -- including trafficking of drugs, weapons, money, and people.

Children are reported to be at risk of sexual abuse, gang recruitment and violence, and women are vulnerable targets of criminal gangs engaging in human trafficking. A recent IRC survey found an unusually high number of families (about 20 percent) citing safety and protection from violence and gangs as priority concerns, neither of which rank so prominently in similar assessments around the world.

The IRC is working to support programs on the border, but more funding is urgently needed. The IRC is currently setting up programs through local partners in Northern Mexico to aid migrants and asylum seekers stuck in border towns. We are establishing programming to support women and girls who have experienced violence by supporting increased access to services such as medical care and psychosocial assistance. The IRC continues to assess the impact and plan to scale up our response; however, it is urgent that international donors make emergency funding available to shore up a response commensurate with the needs. IRC is also scaling up its work in El Salvador and on the U.S. side of the border to reach those in need.

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May 9, 2019

Help Protect Asylum Seekers--Update

  • The security situation in the Northern Triangle is deteriorating, forcing people to leave their homes.  The number of children and families fleeing has increased over the years. From the IRC’s experience in the region, the fears of persecution among those fleeing the Northern Triangle are very real. Violence in the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador is amongst some of the worst in the world outside of an active war zone.

  • The $8.6 billion the President requested in FY2020 for a wall is almost 20 times more than the amount requested to address the root causes of violence and displacement in the region.  Threats of pulling aid only undermine U.S. allies who are in a position to address the root causes, not just the symptoms, of this crisis. Instead of cutting aid, the U.S. should support Central American countries’ efforts to reduce violence and poverty  – the core reason people are fleeing north.

  • Increasingly, recently released asylum-seeking families in the U.S. are being abandoned by the Trump Administration with no access to food, shelter and clothing rather than being met with a formal reception system. Many have small children or infants. They often speak little English, have no means to travel, or information on how to reach their final destinations or reunite with family in the U.S. Many have been given no guidance on when to attend their immigration court hearings.

  • Communities along the border are trying to support these asylum-seeking families, but their resources are being stretched to breaking point. IRC is providing additional capacity in order to meet these needs, mobilizing with resources, volunteers, and utilizing our emergency expertise to help as many people as possible.

  • Call to Action: The IRC calls on the U.S. Administration to follow domestic and international law, and uphold America’s humanitarian commitments.Congress must act to reverse the systemic attacks on protections for vulnerable populations, refugee resettlement, and legal pathways for asylum seekers, to protect American values and American interests. In recovering America’s humanitarian leadership, Congress must override the President’s veto of the revocation of his unnecessary Emergency Declaration, restore funding to address violence and insecurity in Central America, vote to prevent the deportation of those with Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and uphold the rights of people seeking asylum.

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