The IRC in New York, NY
The International Rescue Committee provides opportunities for refugees, asylees, victims of human trafficking, survivors of torture, and other immigrants to thrive in America. Each year, thousands of people, forced to flee violence and persecution, are welcomed by the people of the United States into the safety and freedom of America. These individuals have survived against incredible odds. The IRC works with government bodies, civil society actors, and local volunteers to help them translate their past experiences into assets that are valuable to their new communities. In New York and other offices across the country, the IRC helps them to rebuild their lives.
Who are refugees?
Refugees are people fleeing violence and persecution—in Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, and other countries in crisis. They are seeking safety and the chance to move their lives forward.
Why are refugees arriving in New York?
The United States has a long tradition of sheltering those fleeing conflict and persecution. Once refugees have been identified by the United Nations refugee agency and cleared for resettlement, the U.S. government works with the IRC and eight other national resettlement agencies to help them restart their lives in America. Out of the nearly 20 million refugees in the world, fewer than 1 percent are considered for resettlement worldwide.
Refugees may be placed in a city where they have relatives or friends, or where there’s an established community that shares their language or culture. Other considerations include the cost of living and a community’s ability to provide medical services. However, as legal U.S. residents, refugees may live in any city and state they chose.
How does the IRC help refugees in New York?
Our programs are designed to ensure refugees thrive in America—whether ensuring children are enrolled in school, adults become self-reliant through employment or starting businesses, or families receive acute medical care they need to recover from trauma or illness. The IRC helps those in need to rebuild their lives and regain control of their future in their new home community.
Refugees are greeted and welcomed at the airport by IRC case workers and volunteers to ensure their transition is as comfortable as possible. The IRC also makes sure newly arrived refugees receive:
- A furnished home
- Help with rent
- Health care
- Nutritious, affordable food
- English language classes
- Help building job, computer, and financial literacy skills
- Education for their children
- Social services and community support
- Legal services towards residency and citizenship
Our programs in New York:
- Resettlement – The resettlement program offers services for refugees within the first 90 days of arrival which include access to safe housing, culturally-appropriate food, health screenings, cultural orientation, referrals for English training, employment assistance and other benefits.
- Economic Empowerment - The employment services team provides both immediate assistance accessing entry-level positions and long-term support for people to get recertified in their chosen career fields.
- Education & Learning – Children & Youth programs offer comprehensive academic and social-emotional supports that leverage younger clients’ resilience, talents, and ambitions to help them achieve their full potential. Through our Family Education programs, we promote early self-sufficiency among newly arrived adults, and longer term, ongoing support for continuing education, career development, and citizenship preparation.
- Immigration - The IRC provides high-quality, low-cost immigration legal services, filing applications and petitions for adjustment of status, Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals (DACA), family reunification, and naturalization applications.
- New Roots – The New Roots program focuses on the food access and nutrition needs of refugees, asylees and other immigrant populations during the resettlement process and beyond.
What services does the IRC provide to the wider community?
The IRC in New York offers youth programs, immigration legal services and English language training for community members.
How can I help refugees in New York?
There are many ways that you can get involved with the IRC’s work in New York. You can:
Donate: Give a tax-deductible financial contribution either via the website or sent to our office.
Volunteer Process and Opportunities: Read the steps you need to go through to become an IRC volunteer and see our current list of volunteer opportunities here.
Internship Opportunities: See our current list of internship opportunities here.
Join the Community Interpreter Program: Join the International Rescue Committee in New York as a Community Interpreter Volunteer to help interpret for newly arrived refugees and immigrants.
Spread the Word: Consider hosting your own Fundraising Campaign (on- or offline)—please contact [email protected] for more information. Stay connected via our newsletter, follow us on Facebook, and ask others to do the same!
Corporate Engagement Opportunities: We invite our partners to organize corporate volunteer opportunities.
Other Ways to Get Involved: Employ refugees, connect us to affordable housing options
What do refugees contribute to New York?
Once they acclimate to their new environment, refugees often thrive and contribute to their communities, building careers, purchasing homes, gaining citizenship.
Adult Education's vital role in NYC
Adult Education programs provide community and crucial language skills for refugees, asylees, and immigrants looking to advance in New York City.
As a volunteer since 2016, Lisa Scholtes has quickly become an invaluable member of the IRC in New York’s support network.
LITs in their own words
As part of their civic engagement efforts, the IRC in NY Leaders In Training wrote an oped together about their refugee, asylee, and immigrant experiences.
What makes New York unique? Any first-time visitor will tell you that the diversity of the faces on the subway never ceases to amaze. Refugees are an integral part of the fabric of New York. Uprooted from their homes and forced to flee for their lives because of persecution and oppression, refugees from every corner of the earth have found safe harbor in New York’s culturally rich neighborhoods.Avigail ZivAvigail Ziv is Executive Director of the IRC's New York office.
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