IRA Helps Neighbors Find Local Resources

Published by Program Manager on

IRA Helps Neighbors Find Local Resources

The process of seeking asylum is a hardship that many immigrants face when attempting to come to the United States for a better and safer life. Having a support system and resources can lessen the stress that many individuals feel when facing the long and difficult process.

A staff member from another local non-profit contacted BIIN for advice on helping an immigrant through the asylum process. The immigrant had arrived from Central America to the U.S. as a minor and applied for asylum in the United States. The staff person from the other organization shared with the Brazos Interfaith Immigration Network volunteer, Clotilde Pichon, their doubts about the client’s immigration lawyer.  Volunteer Pichon reassured them that the lawyer is both reliable and knowledgeable.

She also explained that it is not unusual for a lawyer to express doubts about whether an immigrant minor will be granted asylum, since U.S. law requires that applicants present evidence that returning to their home country would lead them to fall under violence and persecution on account of race, religion, nationality or political beliefs. Asylum is granted if the applicant can provide concrete evidence of the danger to their life they would face back in their country;  but gathering or obtaining such evidence can be a difficult endeavor when one leaves one’s own country in a hurry.

Volunteer Pichon advised the person helping the immigrant minor to have their client document in as much detail as possible the situation the youth faced in their country of origin. The BIIN volunteer suggested that someone sit with the youth and ask questions, to help the youth put their story together in a clear and chronological manner.  She pointed out that BIIN’s  Information/Referrals/ Assistance ( IRA) program can provide a certified translation of documents or written testimonies if necessary, free of charge. Although BIIN cannot directly give legal aid, we can help people understand the complex processes they face and guide them towards the resources they need in the community. 

Thanks to spring 2022 IRA intern Gaby Lozano for this account and to longstanding volunteer Clotilde Pichon for her work with the IRA program.