NorCal Resist Asylum Accompaniment Network
Build a strong network of local community members, asylees, & asylum seekers, driven by the needs & leadership of impacted people.
A panel of trans latinx women discussing their journey to Sacramento via the caravan from Honduras, detention at Cibola, and finally, sponsorship in Sacramento.
What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)
Transgender women in Central America (Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala) face violence, persecution, and discrimination in their home countries. Some of these women have been forced to flee their homes and families, often alone, and with only the most limited resources. These women travel to the US to seek asylum, where they are placed in ICE detention; because many of the women do not have family in the US, or family that they have relationships with, they languish in detention unless a legal services organization is able to recruit a sponsor to bond them out of detention. Non-LGBTQIA asylum seeking families face similar struggles, although they often have the benefit of family support to assist them through the resettlement process.
Scattered around the country are people who have stepped up to bond a woman out of detention; these individuals are sometimes part of a faith group or immigration organization that provides support to the asylum seekers and their sponsors over the course of the immigration proceedings. But many women remain in detention. Many individuals do not feel equipped to take an asylum seeker, particularly a trans woman, into their home. Others do not have the space, or extra income.
Our goal is to develop a safe space where a small number of women can live both during the pendency of their asylum proceedings, and for the period afterwards, when they are finding jobs and getting connected to the resources that are available to asylees in the US. Our goal is not only for this home to be a safe space for the women; the space will also be a hub for local organizations, faith groups, and other community members to connect with the women, and to provide relevant assistance, whether legal, financial, educational, spiritual, and otherwise. Our longer-term goal is for the women who "graduate" the space to take on a leadership and mentorship goal for new women entering the home, and the community.
Geography of focus (500 characters)
Our home base is Sacramento, California, and we believe our region is uniquely positioned to take a leadership role in the resettlement and success of Central American migrants. Sacramento is ethnically and racially diverse; it is also home to a large latinx community, as well as communities of Asian and Eastern European asylees, who have charted a path and created community resources that can serve as resources and a model for this wave of Central American migrants.
Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)
Our bridge is the creation of what we call "accompaniment" teams. These are teams of local community members assigned to be part of an asylum seekers' team. The team assists the asylum seeker with the mundane tasks of moving to a new country- getting ID, signing up for school or programs, help finding a job. The team is also a two-way street- as folks get to know one another, opportunities for learning and understanding, and a more nuanced understanding of the causes of global migration.
What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)
We live in a society where many folks are isolated-- and not just asylum seekers or new migrants, who may find language and other barriers to relationship building. Retired people, people working from home, many of us find ourselves shuttling to and from work or errands without developing deeper relationships with the many people around us. Feelings of isolation lead to hopelessness, and to the growth of sometimes dangerous political movements targeting those feelings.
Our idea is to grow community through shared purpose. All humans need to feel needed. The work of assisting a newly arrived asylum seeker is work that provides joy, hope, and dignity, both to the giver and the receiver. Our intent is for those who initially receive services to in turn provide those services, leadership, and friendship, to the next cohort of asylum seekers and to accompaniers. Similarly, accompaniers who become more experienced will provide mentorship to new accompaniers.
What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)
When asylum seekers do not have guidance or support from the local community, they may end up losing their asylum cases for simple reasons-- because they miss required ICE check-ins or court dates, or because they do not know where to get an attorney. Other asylum seekers struggle to navigate systems of bureaucracy, such as getting a drivers license or getting children enrolled in school.
We will know we are creating positive change when we see current asylum seekers become independent, and able to provide mentorship to the next cohort of asylum seekers. We also will know that we are successful when we see relationships across communities growing and flourishing without our intervention.
What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)
For the last two years, our organization has been working with local undocumented and asylum-seeking communities, to ensure they are aware of their rights, and have access to legal and other resources necessary to a successful immigration court case. As this work has grown, we have become intimately aware of the many challenges facing asylum seekers, particularly LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers, and have begun the work of building networks of support to ensure the success of these asylum seekers' immigration cases.
As individuals who come from second and third generation immigrant families ourselves, we understand that community support and the building of a community support network is what made migration possible and a successful and positive journey for our own families. We are inspired by family history, by the resilience and strength of today's migrants, and by the generosity of our neighbors and friends.
Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)
There are several core groups involved here.
LGBTIA+ Asylum Seekers: this is a small, but growing, community of asylum seekers who have been dependent on strangers in order to be released from detention. They have often experienced significant amounts of trauma and violence in their home country and on their journey to the US, but also demonstrate tremendous resilience and ability to navigate in unfamiliar situations.
NorCal Resist- our organization is a latinx led organization working with the undocumented community, asylum seekers, and activists who are interested in becoming part of a network of support for asylum seekers.
Local faith communities- various local faith communities exist, some of which have strong roots in migrant/asylee communities, that would be a valuable community resource to newly arrived asylum seekers.
Local community groups- various community organizations interested in LGBTQIA+, women's, children's, and other overlapping issues are good potential partners.
How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)
We have a diverse community that is interested in learning about the ways it can support migrants and asylum seekers. The attached photograph is from a pozole dinner fundraiser we held at a church, where diverse community members came together to break bread and raise money for asylum seekers.
Our community is incredibly diverse, and most folks have a migration story in their recent family history. The cost of living in our area is still reasonable, and the job market is good. Employers are sympathetic to issues surrounding migration and asylum, and are interested in supporting the work we are proposing. We believe our local network is strong enough to fill all of the gaps (legal, medical, work, housing) that we need filled.
What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)
We have several local community partners: A Community for Peace (an organization providing shelter and housing to victims of sexual violence), Gender Health Center (non-profit organization providing services to transgender and nonbinary individuals), and we hope to build stronger partnerships with the Sacramento LGBT Center, as well as with local faith organizations. Finally, our ultimate stakeholders are the asylum seeking women that we hope to see leading this movement once they have reached a place of financial and housing security.
What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing
Arriving and settling at a destination community
Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing
Service: A new or enhanced service that creates value for end beneficiaries
Idea Proposal Stage
Prototype: We have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.
Group or Organization Name
Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)
Our organization is a latinx-led community organization that aims to empower our local communities, particularly the immigrant community. Our work has been diverse, and has included providing numerous immigrant know your rights trainings, as well as working in a coalition to develop a local ICE rapid response program with free legal services. We provide programming that aims to get community members talking with one another and thinking about issues. These include our brake light fix it program, and our community fix it program. By utilizing volunteers, we are able to expose folks to the realities of the lives of people they may otherwise never meet. We are able to demonstrate in a real and tangible way to our neighbors that we are here for them, and we can show that in action.
We have already begun some of the ground level work, and have connected local asylum seekers to accompaniers, legal help, and medical resources. Coming from migrant families, we are invested in this work!
Type of submitter
We are a registered Non-Profit Organization
Organization Headquarters: Country
United States of America
Organization Headquarters: City / State