Can Americans take in a Syrian refugee family?
November 18, 2015 8:51 PM   Subscribe

We'd like to do more than writing letters and sending money - is it possible to sponsor a family or children to stay in our home and assist them financially?

We are just heartbroken and want to do more than what we have been doing (writing letters to representatives, vocal advocacy, monetary donations). I'm absolutely going to continue doing such, but we keep asking ourselves - "can't we just take someone in?" (Please assume for this question that we have the resources and safe home to have a family stay with us.)

Is there any sponsorship program running in the Midwest to do such a thing? I did try Googling but everything I found was about monetary donation. Again, if that's the right thing we'll keep doing it, but I'd hate for the only reason to not "open all walls of our tent" was my hesitation to bug AskMe with a question.

Thank you in advance for any direct answers or ideas for further assistance we can do.
posted by blue_and_bronze to Law & Government (10 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Organizations like LIRS (Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service) sponsor refugee families and find them housing and support in the United States. They usually get their own apartment rather than living with a US family. Volunteers work with the refugees to welcome them and support their new life in the US, including helping furnish the apartment, get clothing/food, driving to medical appointments, etc. Volunteering with this type of organization may be closest to what you are looking for.
posted by Mallenroh at 9:42 PM on November 18, 2015 [11 favorites]

Mallenroh is right. May I suggest you see if there are other, religious organizations for other sects other than the Lutherans? If LIRS isn't able to connect, another organization from another sect or religion might have those connections. I would guess the Catholic Church is the first place to start because after World War I, the French had control over Syria under a Mandate.

Deep search with search terms informed by the history of the place will serve you well.. I predict success.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:40 PM on November 18, 2015

According to this article, in Seattle this family was going to stay with a host family for their first month. So possibly it depends on the specific agency handling them, and you could try getting in touch with more than one agency to ask.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 10:40 PM on November 18, 2015

According to this article, Catholic Charities of Louisville has welcomed dozens and expects about 200 more.
posted by acorncup at 11:09 PM on November 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I thought about doing this. My husband is an immigrant to the US (gosh it's so weird to write that, to me he's another citizen of planet earth, not some "alien") and I have thought this through a bit.

Straight up - I've worked on news stories about how charities work, and I never put my money there. I always donate my time, or not at all. Except for one or two very select organizations. But even then I am dubious.

I think you have the right idea.

Weird thought - can you reach out to folks you know that may have connections with legit families waiting on a miracle? Through people you know? After that, an organization may help you facilitate their paperwork and government interviews. What do you think? Can you ask around?

Here's one of my favorite life experiences...

When I was in my very early 20's, one of my aunts held a foreign position. Government and war erupted. She smuggled out a young couple she knew to the United States. I met them at a dinner party the first week they escaped tragedy. I was introduced to them as though they were any other guests. I did not know their story until later.

Every day that I read about situations like this, I think about that couple from 20+ years ago. They stayed here in the US. Their entire lives were changed. It's very possible their lives were saved.

Please do this, somehow. You have no idea. Please let me know if I can be of any help.
posted by jbenben at 11:17 PM on November 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

The US Office of Refugee Resettlement works with a number of organizations, especially these nine non-profits (LIRS is one). Those non-profits work with further local groups too. I'd start contacting the organizations to see how you can volunteer.
posted by zachlipton at 11:20 PM on November 18, 2015 [10 favorites]

Lutheran social services is one of the best options, not because of a religious connection with refugees, but because, as zachlipton says, they are one of the designated organizations resettling refugees. I would just Google "your city refugee resettlement" and see who is active in your area and what they have for volunteers to do. There are likely a number of refugees already being resettled in your area (here in Columbus, we have large Somali, Bhutanese, Afghan, and Burundian populations, for example) and there are certainly things you can help the organization with - whether that is taking on a resettled family and helping them with settling in, paperwork, finding jobs, learning the area, or teaching citizen classes, or visiting homebound resettled folks, out teaching English, they will be immensely grateful for volunteers over the long-term.
posted by ChuraChura at 6:13 AM on November 19, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Per ChuraChura's suggestion, I googled "my city refugee resettlement" and came up with this. They offer a range of options, from volunteering in their after school program, to sponsoring a family for four months (where you get together with them for two hours a week to play games, cook, teach them life skills like navigating the subway system, see local sights, whatever). You can also help furnish an apartment for them.

We're unable to make a large time commitment right now, but thanks to your Ask, I have contacted them to see about donating a "Good Neighbor Kit", which is a list of stuff like pots and pans and dishes and pillows and blankets and toothbrushes and other household necessities that are used to set up an apartment for an arriving family. I think it will be a great thing to do together with my son and I hope it will make someone's arrival a little easier.

I hope you can find something similar in your area.
posted by telepanda at 7:23 AM on November 19, 2015 [6 favorites]

International Rescue Committee is another organization with local chapters working directly with refugee individuals and families as they settle into life here in the states. They have a number of volunteer opportunities that would allow you to give time to help with different aspects of that process. Professionally, I've worked with the organization to facilitate medical appointments for some families, but there are opportunities for everything from providing transportation to acting as a mentor/adviser to help with things like applying and interviewing for work, completing school registration, language tutoring, etc.
posted by goggie at 8:03 AM on November 19, 2015 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you everyone! Using those search terms didn't pull up anything remotely close to us, but I did find some locations doing the more direct work that we could send donations too for some immediate assistance, so that is very helpful.
posted by blue_and_bronze at 12:13 PM on November 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

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