Flashback Feature: National Asylee Information & Referral Line

Last Updated

February 28, 2024

While seeking asylum is a fundamental human right, the politics and complexities of the U.S. immigration system are all too often a labyrinth for people seeking asylum for protection from death, torture, and persecution. Unlike refugees who are identified from abroad, asylees are not sponsored by U.S. nonprofit resettlement agencies. Thus, asylees face more difficulties in their search for the help they need to become self-sufficient. This reality led to the creation of the first and only asylee helpline to bridge the gap in services between refugees and asylees.

Managed by CLINIC and operated by Catholic Charities of New York, the helpline employed a dozen counselors able to answer calls in 17 different languages. Operators connected asylees with refugee service providers in their local communities, which allowed quick access to English language courses, job training and placement, medical screenings, housing opportunities, school enrollment for children, and mental health counseling for survivors of torture. Throughout the helpline’s life span from 2001 to 2012, close to 40,000 asylees from over 60 countries were given improved access to opportunities to start new, safe lives.