The IRC in Oakland, CA
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 Oakland 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 Oakland?
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 choose.
How does the IRC help refugees in Oakland?
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 Oakland:
- Resettlement is with clients from touchdown at the airport. Within the initial three month span, the team helps refugees with housing, employment, benefits, health insurance, enrollment in English classes, cultural orientation, and referrals to internal and external support. Intensive case management is available for clients with special needs, for example a health condition, who may require additional support.
- Early Employment assists clients in finding their very first jobs in the United States. This program offers basic job training, assistance with resumes and interviews, vocational scholarships, and weekly ESL classes.
- Economic Empowerment addresses the needs of more established refugees, by blending workforce skills and development, financial education and coaching, and public benefits support to help clients build sustainable careers and long term financial stability.
- New Roots works to increase refugee access to and participation in the local food system through nutrition education, food security programming, community gardening, and micro-enterprise training.
- Immigration not only serves our refugee and asylee clients, but also any low-income immigrant population. The department provides assistance in applying for Green Cards, Citizenship/Naturalization, travel documents, employment authorization, visa applications, petitioning for family reunification, CAM/AOR, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
- Anti-Trafficking strives to provide timely, high-quality, comprehensive services to survivors of human trafficking as well as raise awareness and educate the public through collaboration and coordination with law enforcement and other community organizations.
What services does the IRC provide to the wider community?
The IRC in Oakland’s immigration department not only serves our refugee and asylee clients, but also any low-income immigrant population. In addition, the IRC in Oakland partners with local service providers and community groups to conduct programming.
How can I help refugees in Oakland?
There are many ways that you can get involved with the IRC’s work in Oakland. You can:
Donate: Give a tax-deductible financial contribution either via the website or sent to our office.
Get your Company Involved: Bring your colleagues together for team building activity that gives back.
New or Gently Used Items Needed for Refugees: We’re collecting a variety of items in support of newly arrived refugees. See how you can help.
Spread the Word: Consider hosting a fundraiser. Stay connected via our newsletter, follow us on Facebook, and ask others to do the same!
GenR: GenR, short for Generation Rescue, is a group of young and influential humanitarians between the ages of 25 and 40 who have joined forces with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to help people survive and rebuild their lives.
Other Ways to Get Involved: Employ refugees or connect us to affordable housing options.
How do I volunteer or intern at IRC Oakland?
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.
What do refugees contribute to Oakland?
Once they acclimate to their new environment, refugees often thrive and contribute to their communities, building careers, purchasing homes, gaining citizenship.
Volunteers lend helping hand with furniture deliveries
Two retired Stanislaus County residents have helped make refugees’ houses and apartments into homes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, delivering furniture and other needed items to newly arrived families.
East Bay mosque plays vital role during pandemic
In addition to health concerns during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many families faced dual concerns about dwindling food supplies. For those who came to the Bay Area as refugees and asylees, it was an unwarranted second wave of crisis to handle after the saga of arriving in the U.S.
New legal program helps immigrants facing deportation
While U.S. citizens have a right to a government-appointed attorney when they are accused of crimes, that’s not the case for immigrants at risk of deportation, even if they were charged with minor traffic offenses. IRC seeks to change the status quo in the Central Valley and Central Coast regions through the newly launched California Legal Fellowship program.
To be a refugee, you have to be open: otherwise it’s like running a hurdle race without having learned to jump. And the race is never over. It just gets better.Enes CericEnes Ceric is a Bosnian refugee resettled to Oakland, CA in 1994
individuals from refugee and immigrant communities
We help people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover and regain control of their future.See our impact at a glance
refugees resettle across the country and rebuild their lives
The IRC helps refugees fleeing war and persecution to rebuild their lives in over 20 U.S. cities.Learn about refugees in America
people with training to help them build careers and income.
Our economic empowerment support includes financial coaching, vocational training and asset building.Learn more