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.
Learn more about how refugee resettlement works.
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
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.