Before, they were in desperate circumstances with little money, isolated from family because of abuse, and living in fear of deportation. Now, the immigrant women and children protected by the Tahirih Justice Center’s Houston Office are in desperate need of help because of Hurricane Harvey. Some are in dire situations, including:
Clients who have had to abandon their homes and belongings, and are living in shelters or with friends.
Panicked calls that, with no electricity, some individuals cannot keep their ICE ankle monitors charged and will be held in immigration detention.
Reports of scams targeting Spanish-speaking individuals who are receiving notice that their cars have been impounded and that they must give their credit card information over the phone paying $1,000 to get their car back.
Clients whose documents showing identity and evidence of abuse – needed for their legal cases – were lost with the rest of their belongings in the floods.
Adding to the suffering caused by Hurricane Harvey, many immigrants fear turning to authorities to ask for help because, while their legal cases are pending, they are undocumented and in constant threat of deportation. Despite assurances by the Houston Mayor that they will not be deported when seeking relief from Harvey, and an order issued this week in U.S. District Court temporarily halting the implementation of Texas law SB4 on Constitutional grounds, their fears of deportation when turning to authorities are real. We advise our clients to seek help, but know that some may, even in these times, be reported to ICE.
The bottom line is this: the legal and social services needs of clients, and immigrant women and girls not yet our clients, has just multiplied exponentially. WE ARE DOING ALL WE CAN, BUT WE NEED YOUR HELP TO DO MORE!
Despite the fact that some Tahirih Houston staff have lost their belongings and had to abandon their homes, we are working around the clock to respond to the immediate needs of immigrant women and children. We are partnering with many organizations in Houston. Some of our efforts include:
- Staffing the Immigration Collaborative Hotline to answer legal questions from those in fear;
- Volunteering at shelters and FEMA sites;
- Coordinating with the Mayor’s office to allay the immigrant community’s fears;
- Calling all of our Houston clients to make sure they are alright and address their unique needs and concerns in the wake of the storm;
- Coordinating with FEMA to make sure they have bilingual capacity and answers to questions related to legal status, including information for Spanish-speakers on applying for benefits;
- Intervening with ICE to explain our clients’ circumstances.
But we must do more. In order to increase our capacity and ensure that our clients are safe, we need cash assistance during moments of crisis. Please donate now.
We are humbled to see the country stand behind Houston. In the coming days, Houston will begin the task of rebuilding. Together, with you – our supporters – by our side, we will rebuild.