The IRC in Phoenix, AZ
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 Phoenix 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 Phoenix?
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 Phoenix?
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 Phoenix:
- Resettlement: Meeting the basic needs for food, shelter and legal rights in the early, critical stages of resettlement.
- Economic Empowerment: Protecting, supporting and improving household livelihoods and financial security.
- Community Integration and Development: Strengthening communities and preparing individuals to participate fully in American society.
- Health and Wellness: Promoting wellness and ensuring access to healthcare services that address physical and psychological needs.
- Arizona League to End Regional Trafficking (ALERT): The IRC's anti-trafficking programs serve victims and survivors of human trafficking by providing access to protection, empowerment, stability, and self-sufficiency through comprehensive case management, advocacy, education, collaboration, and capacity building.
What services does the IRC provide to the wider community?
The International Rescue Committee’s Immigration and Civics Instruction program provides affordable and competent Immigration services to assist individuals applying for Green cards (I485), citizenship (N400), family reunification, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and more.
In addition, The Civics Instruction program provides free citizenship preparation classes and materials to any Legal Permanent Resident to be prepared for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalization exam.
The IRC also has a professional, fee-based interpreter service, offering on-call interpreters who speak more than 60 languages of lesser diffusion such as Amharic, Burmese, Karen, Farsi, Nepali, Somali, and Tigrinya among others.
For more information on the Immigration & Interpreter Services, please contact:
Christopher Debreceni, Community Integration Manager, [email protected], (602) 433-2440 x 220
How can I help refugees in Phoenix?
There are many ways that you can get involved with the IRC’s work in Phoenix. 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.
Group Volunteer Opportunities: Interested in getting your team involved in an IRC project? Click here to see list of current group opportunities.
New or Gently Used Items Needed for Refugees: We’re collecting items for newly refugees. See how you can help.
Spread the Word: Consider hosting your own Fundraising Campaign (on- or offline). Stay connected via our newsletter, follow us on Facebook, and ask others to do the same!
Other Ways to Get Involved: Employ refugees, connect us to affordable housing options, have your Scout do their Leadership Award project with us, or purchase produce from refugee farmers at Downtown Phoenix Farmer’s Market.
What do refugees contribute to Phoenix?
Once they acclimate to their new environment, refugees often thrive and contribute to their communities, building careers, purchasing homes, gaining citizenship.
As of spring 2016, through the IRC’s Community & Economic Development programs in Phoenix refugees have purchased 336 homes, opened 151 new businesses, converted 8 corner stores to sell locally grown produce in food deserts, runs three community gardens, have certified 32 at-home childcare businesses, and purchased almost $40 Million in assets strengthening our local economy.
Achieving Financial Independence for Foster Youth
“Opportunity Passport is a financial literacy and matched savings program specifically designed for foster youth,” said Gerardo Novoa, IRC’s IDA Foster Care Youth Program Coordinator, who runs the Opportunity Passport program. Opportunity Passport provides classes on financial literacy topics like credit and savings to foster youth, both refugees and native-born US citizens. Youth can then make a match to their savings for an asset purchase, with a lifetime cap of $3000 in matches across 7 categories: Education, Health, Housing, Transportation, Investment, Credit Building, and Microenterprise Development. Since the start of the program, 170 youth have participated, with 123 currently active in the program. Opportunity Passport provides the skills and assets to allow foster youth to achieve financial independence.
Determination, Independence, and Self-Reliance
Chicha Saleh is an example of the determination of refugees to make a better life for themselves in the United States. For Chicha, a better life means independence and self-reliance for her and her 10-year old son, Cristiano.
Do you speak English and another language? Want to help refugees and immigrants connect with schools, hospitals, and businesses? The IRC in Phoenix is looking for paid interpreters!
Phoenix, Arizona, has a long standing history of providing a welcoming community for refugees. The IRC in Phoenix works with a variety of partners including churches, schools, volunteers, ethnic community based organizations, employers, community agencies, corporate partners, and city government entities to name a few. With their support the IRC in Phoenix assists New American families to become self-reliant and thrive, as they integrate into the social, cultural, and economic fabric of their new community.Donna MagnusonDonna Magnuson is Executive Director of the IRC's Phoenix office.
people worldwide to benefit from IRC humanitarian programs and those of our partners.
The IRC offers high-quality, low-cost immigration legal services and citizenship assistance in 22 cities across the U.S.Learn more about immigration
newly arrived refugees who have been offered sanctuary by the United States to resettle in their new communities.
The United States has a long tradition of offering refuge to those fleeing persecution and war.See where we work in the U.S.
refugees from East Asia to resettle in the U.S. through the Resettlement Support Center in Thailand and Malaysia.
We help refugees prepare paperwork, facilitate interviews with U.S government officials, and, once they have been accepted for resettlement, schedule medical screening and take cultural orientation classes.Learn more