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Sponsoring an LGBTQ+ Refugee in Thurston County
January 2 @ 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm PST
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
Hello Compassionate People of Thurston County,
This is not an event, so ignore Jan. 2, instead fill out the form below and join lots of other local folks to support a couple of LGBTQ refugees we hope to get here sometime in January.
(This is long but please read it and see if you and/or someone you know can be part of our Village to help an LGBTQ+ refugee or Asylum Seeker.)
The Jan. 2 date is NOT AN EVENT. FB makes us put a specific date but there is none. We are seeking ongoing help for an LGBTQ+ refugee we hope to bring to Olympia sometime in January. See below.
There is a huge and desperate need to find sponsors for LGBTQ asylum seekers at the southern border. There has been a request to people in the Northwest to open our doors, hearts, wallets and time. So a group of us, the Rabble Rousers, here in Thurston County, thought that if we can get a village of us to support one person, we could seriously consider doing this.
Here is what we know and commitments including sponsors and support we would need from LOTS of us in the Olympia area.
Immigration Attorneys are looking for sponsors who are legal permanent residents or US citizens with a steady source of income and no criminal record. They’re also looking for people with “LGBTQ+ competencies” and an awareness of “trauma-informed care.”
Some asylum seekers presently in detention have family members and friends willing to take them in, but a majority of those would-be sponsors are not in the United States legally, and ICE is hesitant to release asylum-seekers to them. They are in constant danger of being beaten, isolated and harassed. Others are at the border waiting to get in.
We are excited that we already have one family willing to be a sponsor, but just in case they aren’t approved or if we get enough community support that we could bring two refugees, we would like to know who else is willing to be a sponsor.
A sponsor has to submit proof that they’re a citizen or legal permanent resident, a copy of a state-issued ID, and proof of income. In addition to providing a “safe and stable home” during someone’s immigration proceedings, a sponsor, and/or our “village” will also be responsible for going to ICE check-ins and appointments, coordinating transportation, helping to secure legal representation, if necessary, and helping the asylum-seeker access health care.
The Refugee/asylum seeker, will arrive with nothing, which means they will need everything. They may not speak English, and will have suffered immense trauma which is why they are leaving their country in the first place. They will not be allowed to work legally for 6 months. They will most likely need medical help and will need legal support as well and major social support.
The “family/persons” identified as “the sponsor” must commit to the asylum seeker (AS) living in their home for at least 6 months. This is preferably someone who lives near a busline.
What we, as a village, would need to supply is listed below so that the sponsor and refugee/asylum seeker have the supports they need. We will not know exactly what is needed until the sponsor and AS are identified, though most likely folks will be needed to:
– Provide respite for the sponsor family. This would be providing, if allowed, a night or two of housing periodically if the family goes away for short periods of time. Otherwise staying in their home so the family can go away for a weekend or so.
– Provide meals for the sponsoring family. Taking the AS out for a meal.
– Rides to Doctor’s appts, dentists, English speaking classes, legal appointments, support groups, etc.
– Social Connections: Movies, walks, go out for meals together, do fun things together.
– Apprenticeship opportunities. They may be coming with major skills depending on what job they were doing in their country before fleeing. But since they are not allowed to have a paying job here for 6 months, are there woodworkers and other craft folks, construction people, computer tech people, cooks, musicians, etc who can teach them skills they may be interested in learning?
– A trauma informed and Trans experienced therapist willing to provide free therapy and doctors and dentists willing to provide care if needed.
– An organizer/volunteer coordinator who would be the person in charge of setting up and updating the online schedule for the AS, the sponsoring family and all of the volunteers.
– Interpreters who can accompany the AS for important appointments or help on phone calls when needed.
And then, of course, we will need people who can provide MONEY.
– There will be medical and legal costs. They have nothing and will need clothes, shoes, coats, hygiene supplies, a bus pass, a mobile phone, money to take classes, spending money, and so forth.
– We will need a bank account that people can put money into on a regular basis. This can include one or two time donations but what would be especially helpful would be monthly deposits from individuals of $10 – $200 a month. And we’ll need a financial coordinator who will keep track of all the money coming in and going out of the account.
ARE YOU INTERESTED? Are you able to be the sponsor? Can you commit to time and/or money to support an LGBTQ asylum seeker? It will take a village. Can we get 40 – 50 folks helping?
Please fill out the attached form and email it to Lynngrotsky@gmail.com to offer your interest and support. Put any questions you have on the form itself. And thank you!
Feel free to pass this onto others who you think might be interested too.