Program Highlight: The IRC continues to provide unique services to asylees in Northern California
The IRC in San Francisco’s Asylee Orientation Program continues to provide guidance and services to new asylees, reaching people who reside in more than 15 Northern California counties. The program introduces newly granted asylees to the myriad of services available to them in their local communities. The program provides fundamental resettlement resources for newly granted asylees such as information about benefit programs, cultural issues, immigration and legal services, employment, health, and education. It also provides them with information about their rights and responsibilities as lawfully admitted new residents of the United States.
The program is the only one of its kind in Northern California and is delivered every 4 weeks through a 2 hour and 30 minute presentation and Question & Answer session. In addition, participants receive materials that provide both an overview of asylee benefits produced by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), as well as detailed and comprehensive information regarding access points for all types of services in the counties where each asylee resides. Interpretation services in the major languages of asylee communities are provided at each session.
The program results from collaboration between representatives from the IRC, the Newcomers Health Program, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (SF Asylum Office) and the U.S. Department of Justice (SF Immigration Court). The program was spearheaded by the IRC with the help of an IRC volunteer attorney and long-time supporter of the IRC in San Francisco, who facilitated the long-term partnership, planning and implementation of the program.
Since its inception in November 2008, the orientation has been presented to more than 1,500 newly granted asylees of 60 nationalities. The program has been observed by representatives of the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) Asylum Office headquarters in Washington DC and received a very favorable review. The program has since served as a model for other asylum orientation programs, including an IRC initiated program in Southern California.
To learn more about IRC’s Asylee Orientation Program, please contact Sarah Heddon, Development Associate at Sarah.Heddon@Rescue.org or +1 415 863.3777.