People make difficult choices every day to protect their loved ones. Despite fleeing violence and persecution in Central America, asylum seekers in search of safety are not being welcomed in the United States. Instead, many are being detained and later released without food, water, shelter or guidance on the asylum process.
The International Rescue Committee and its partners are providing emergency support to asylum seeking families in the U.S. Here’s a closer look at our work:
In Phoenix, Arizona, the IRC and its local partners are providing food, water, basic medical assistance, legal counseling, clothing and emergency shelter for hundreds of people each week who have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Once released from government detention centers, families are dropped off at a day center run by the IRC and its partner St. Vincent De Paul, a local charity.
"They are hungry and exhausted. These families have the legal right to seek asylum — but have limited to no guidance regarding the asylum process," said IRC director of immigration Olga Byrne.
At the day center, the IRC and its partners help asylum seekers get in touch with family members in the U.S. IRC community engagement coordinator Stanford Prescott records their basic information and U.S. contacts in order to facilitate purchasing bus and plane tickets.
The IRC and its partners also provide families with hot meals, snacks and water. Local medical professionals visit the day center to treat mild colds and provide consultation to vulnerable people such as pregnant women. The IRC takes asylum seekers with urgent medical needs to a local emergency room. There has been an outpouring of generosity from local Arizonans, including donated food, clothing, backpacks and toys.
Many children have experienced emotional and psychological trauma from growing up amid violence and fleeing their homes. Detention centers are poorly equipped to handle the young children who are forced to stay there. The IRC provides a safe space at the day center where they can draw, play games and enjoy other activities.
Families who need to stay longer than 24 hours while they wait to receive their bus or plane tickets are shuttled to an overnight shelter by the IRC.
At the overnight shelter, families are given a bed, warm blankets and snacks. The IRC then provides transportation from the shelter to bus stations and the airport.
Prescott explains to a group of asylum seekers from Central America how to transfer buses as they continue their journey to reunite with family.
People arriving at the U.S. border have the right to request asylum without being criminalized, turned back, or separated from their children. They are fleeing their homes and often seeking safety elsewhere within their countries, moving multiple times to no avail. Many embark on the journey to the U.S. because they are absolutely desperate and must escape, despite the dangers of the journey. Learn more about our work.