Families seeking safety from violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are being detained at the United States border and later released without food, water, shelter or guidance on the asylum process.
Many of these families are brought to an International Rescue Committee day center in Phoenix, Ariz. where they can eat, rest and have their questions answered about what comes next. IRC staff and volunteers also help the asylum seekers arrange to join relatives elsewhere in the U.S. Some families stay overnight in a shelter at a local church or school before continuing their journey.
After an arduous and dangerous trek from Central America, these new arrivals have reached the U.S. with few possessions. These are some of the items IRC staff assisting asylum seekers in Arizona say are the most urgently needed:
Asylum seekers must hand over their shoelaces to U.S. Border Patrol agents when they are detained.
A toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and other hygiene items help asylum seekers freshen up after they are released.
3. Change of clothes
Socks, underwear, fleece jackets and baby clothes: For adult clothing, Small and Medium sizes are most needed.
4. Cell phone
A flip phone with a SIM card and prepaid minutes can help asylum seekers stay in touch with their relatives.
Diaper-bag basics including wet wipes and lotion help families keep infants clean and comfortable.
6. Coloring book and crayons
Coloring and activity books can keep children occupied playing and learning for hours.
7. Snacks and water
Nuts, raisins and peanut butter crackers make portable and nutritious snacks while traveling.
8. Travel blanket
A lightweight fleece blanket helps families stay warm on an air-conditioned bus or plane trip.
9. Visa gift card
These cards work like cash, so that families can buy the exact items they need.
10. Day pack
A small backpack keeps essentials handy.
You can help
The IRC helps families seeking refuge in the U.S. to find safety and stability as they await their asylum hearings.
You can support the IRC's work by making a donation or purchasing items from our Phoenix team's Amazon.com wish list.