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.
New executive director to lead IRC in Phoenix
Aaron Rippenkroeger was recently appointed as the Interim Executive Director for the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Phoenix in July 2018. Aaron brings 19 years of experience in refugee service, including many years of experience with the IRC, to the position.
Science, Art, and Personal Growth: the 2018 Refugee Youth Summer Program
The Refugee Youth Summer Program, jointly led by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Phoenix and Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest, provides an opportunity to better prepare refugee youth for their classes in the fall. The goal of the program is to empower youth, through building social skills, facilitating adjustment to the U.S. academic environment, and connecting them to their community.
Seeking Safety: Asylum-Seekers and Asylees in Phoenix
Seeking asylum is a legal right for families and individuals fleeing from violence and persecution. However the asylum-seeking process can be difficult and lengthy, leaving them in prolonged vulnerabilities and uncertainties. The IRC in Phoenix has seen a large increase in asylum-seekers and asylees seeking services. In fiscal year 2018 alone, the IRC has served 49 asylees and 31 asylum seekers, primarily from Latin America and Africa.
Since 1994, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has worked in Phoenix to help newcomers from around the world who have escaped life-threatening circumstances to begin building new lives for themselves and their families. Given the tools to succeed, refugees thrive in Phoenix, becoming community leaders, business owners, and new Americans. Their journey and our work is made possible by the welcoming and generous support of community members like you.Aaron RippenkroegerAaron Rippenkroeger is Executive Director of the IRC's Phoenix office.
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