Human Rights First to Bring Refugee Representation to Houston
In a few weeks, Human Rights First will open the doors to our new office in Houston, Texas and begin offering legal services to asylum-seekers. Human Rights First currently provides free asylum representation to refugees living in New York City and Washington, D.C. The clients we serve include individuals who have fled their home countries because they suffered persecution on account of their race, religion, political opinion, nationality or social group, and they need a lawyer to help them navigate through the complex U.S. immigration system.
The Human Rights First Houston office is the next step in the organization's goal of increasing asylum representation around the country. Houston has a huge need for asylum representation. Although Houston has a huge international community, there are not enough pro bono lawyers in place to help with all of their immigration needs. Almost 1,000 refugees in Houston applied for asylum last year, many of whom didn’t have lawyers.
In February, Human Rights First’s legal team met with over 25 refugee community leaders to discuss the legal needs of Houston’s diverse population. These leaders included refugees from countries including Afghanistan, Bhutan, Ethiopia, Burma, Laos, Cambodia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They shared stories about the obstacles that many refugees face in their struggle to find a lawyer to help them with their legal case. Many refugees have a hard time getting around Houston due to the lack of public transportation. Others struggle to access housing and food if they lack identity documentation. Some need healthcare and counseling support because they have suffered through great emotional and physical trauma. Having a lawyer can make a huge difference in a refugee’s ability to access these much-needed services.
We are grateful that so many refugee community leaders are welcoming us to Houston with open arms. We are counting on them to help share the information about the work that we do and to educate others about how we can assist asylum-seekers.
We look forward to hosting more community forums at our new office which will be located at the South Texas College of Law building on San Jacinto Street in downtown Houston. Please keep checking our website for more announcements about our office opening.