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.