60 Resources for Supporting Immigrant and Refugee Communities
Immigration and refugee resettlement are ubiquitous subjects, but too often, people think of them in the abstract. Headlines and sound bites about policy can dehumanize the people involved. Immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees are just like everyone else, with needs ranging from education to housing to employment.
Unfortunately, these communities face legal and cultural hurdles that prevent them from accessing necessary support. That’s where people working in helping professions, such as social work, step in to address the challenges facing those who have left sometimes dire situations in their homelands with the hope of improving their lives or their children’s lives. Many organizations throughout the country provide expertise and resources tailored to these communities. These resources can be invaluable assets for social workers engaging with immigrant and refugee clients.
If you are working with clients from immigrant or refugee communities, consider using the following resources, which include toolkits, informational pages, guides, and organizational websites, broken down by issue area:
A Guide to Creating “Safe Space” Policies for Early Childhood Programs (PDF, 2.7 MB)
This guide from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) highlights ways to implement “safe space” policies to protect early childhood programs against immigration enforcement, such as educating staff about who is authorized to speak with an agent of authority and about storing and releasing private information about parents and children.
Access to Postsecondary Education Toolkit
Developed by the National Immigration Law Center, this toolkit includes background information on tuition equity measures, an overview of state laws and policies related to higher education for immigrants, and messaging for organizers who seek to improve access for these communities.
Educational Resources for Immigrants, Refugees, Asylees and Other New Americans
The U.S. Department of Education has created a comprehensive resource page for immigrant, refugee, and asylee students and families that includes a number of fact sheets and guides on topics such as the rights of unaccompanied youth and youth protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Immigrant and Refugee Children: A Guide for Educators and School Support Staff (PDF, 2.6 MB)
The American Federation of Teachers published this report in 2017 for educators, support staff and service providers who teach, mentor and help immigrant and refugee children. It has tools and resources to protect and prepare youth and families in the event of a raid by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Mitigating the Effects of Trauma Among Young Children of Immigrants and Refugees: The Role of Early Childhood Programs
This issue brief, created by the Migration Policy Institute, examines how trauma affects children in immigrant families and what can be done to protect them, highlighting a number of culturally appropriate tactics that schools and educators can use.
U.S. Department of Education: Newcomer Tool Kit (PDF, 4.2 MB)
This toolkit is designed to help teachers, principals, and other staff make schools welcoming for newcomers and their families, provide students with academic support to attain English language proficiency, and meet college- and career-readiness standards.
Understanding and Supporting the Educational Needs of Recently Arrived Immigrant English Learner Students
This publication from the Council of Chief State School Officers examines the school-, district- and state-level policies and practices that are being implemented to support English language learners; it also provides guidance for local education agencies on how to design and adapt their programs.
Lessons From East Tennessee: A Toolkit for Organizations Responding to Mass Worksite Immigration Raids (PDF, 9 MB)
Developed by the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition and the National Immigration Law Center, this toolkit was designed for organizations in an emergency setting where they are required to respond to a raid in the moment. It lays out clear instructions on how to organize an effective response and delegate responsibilities and roles.
At the Intersection of Immigration and Skills Policy: A Roadmap to Smart Policies for State and Local Leaders (PDF, 606 KB)
This publication from the National Skills Coalition outlines the immigrant skill-building policies being implemented by states and localities that provide a pathway to middle-skill jobs. The brief includes recommendations for advocates interested in advancing effective skills policies and strengthening collaborations between workforce and education officials.
Employment Rights of Immigrants Under Federal Anti-Discrimination Laws
This overview from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission explains the protections against employment discrimination guaranteed to people on the basis of their national origin.
Engaging with Employers in the Hiring of Refugees: A 10-Point Multi-Stakeholder Action Plan for Employers, Refugees, Governments and Civil Society (PDF, 5 MB)
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees provide an action plan for employers, refugees and governments aimed at assessing and utilizing the skills of refugees, preparing work environments for this workforce, and ensuring the long-term employability of these communities.
Entrepreneurs @ Immigrants Rising Facebook Community
Immigrants Rising formed this online community to connect immigrant entrepreneurs and keep them updated with presentations, webinars and leadership opportunities.
IMPRINT Program Map: Integrating Foreign-Trained Immigrants and Refugees
IMPRINT—which works with business, government, higher education and other partners to raise awareness about the talents and contributions of immigrant professionals—provides an interactive map highlighting more than 100 programs and services in the United States that are designed to help immigrant and refugee professionals.
National Immigration Law Center’s Workers’ Rights Section
This webpage from the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) is dedicated to workers’ rights and provides know-your-rights trainings, policy analysis, and response toolkits on a number of issues including worksite immigration enforcement, workers’ rights, Social Security numbers, employment eligibility verification, discrimination, and electronic employment eligibility verification.
National Origin and Immigrants’ Rights Program
Created by Legal Aid at Work, this program is designed to protect the employment rights of undocumented workers as well as workers who may face discrimination based on their ethnicity or country of origin. The program offers a Language Rights Helpline, detailed fact sheets with legal information, and sample letters for workers who would like to communicate with their employers about workplace rights.
The Welcoming Economies Playbook: Strategies for Building an Inclusive Local Economy (PDF, 7 MB)
This guide from Welcoming America provides local leaders with strategies on how to create policies related to workforce development, entrepreneurship, agriculture, and home ownership that can create an inclusive economy.
Office of Refugee Resettlement: Employment Resources
This webpage features fact sheets and webinars covering topics such as understanding hiring processes, obtaining new certifications and credentials, and addressing discrimination.
Upskilling the Immigrant Workforce to Meet Employer Demand for Skilled Workers (PDF, 1.3 MB)
In this report, the Urban Institute explores opportunities for educating and training untapped immigrant workers and highlights strategies that organizations across the country are using to support advancement of immigrants in the workforce.
U.S. Department of Justice: Immigrant and Employee Rights Section
The Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) under the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department enforces the anti-discrimination provisions that protect U.S. citizens and certain other work-authorized individuals from employment discrimination based upon citizenship or immigration status. The IER webpage provides an overview of workers’ rights, allows workers to file charges, and includes a number of webinars on employee rights.
This organization offers resources to job seekers, employers and supporters to help immigrants translate their education, skills and professional experience abroad to integrate into the U.S. workforce.
Working Together to Strengthen America’s Immigrant Workforce: Partnerships Between Community Colleges and Immigrant-Serving Organizations
This publication from the Aspen Institute explores the value of partnerships between immigrant-serving organizations and community colleges to help expand immigrants’ access to skill-building and career-advancement opportunities.
American Academy of Pediatrics: Immigrant Health Toolkit (PDF, 1.2 MB)
This guide is designed to provide practical information and resources for pediatricians to address common matters related to immigrant child health.
National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Refugee Trauma
This organization’s site, which explores the age-specific effects of exposure to traumatic events, offers screening resources and intervention strategies for medical, school and mental health professionals addressing refugee trauma.
National Immigration Law Center: Medical Assistance Programs for Immigrants in Various States
NILC provides a downloadable table that describes state policies for providing health coverage.
A Social Worker’s Tool Kit for Working With Immigrant Families (PDF, 966 KB)
The Center on Immigration and Child Welfare has created a guide on trauma and immigrant families in the child welfare system.
Child Migrant Protection Toolkit
This toolkit created by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) includes information on how to support legislation to protect migrant children, as well as a list of NASW resources related to the topic.
United We Dream: Mental Health Toolkit
This resource provides tools to relieve stress and anxiety in immigrant communities and offers guidance on how to set up a safe zone and organize simple healing events.
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants Directory of Associated Local Agencies
Local teams welcome new arrivals and connect them to providers of healthcare, education, interpretation services, and more.
Housing and Resettlement
Building and Sustaining Community Collaborations for Refugee Welcome: A Community Engagement Toolkit
Developed by Welcoming America, this toolkit explores how to strengthen local collaborations between refugee-serving organizations and other potential local partners to support refugee integration.
Immigrant Crime Victim Access to Federally Assisted Housing
This webinar and accompanying materials provide information on government-funded programs that provide emergency shelter and assisted housing to immigrant victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, including which programs are open to all without regard to immigration status.
National Immigration Law Center: Rental Housing Programs—Public Housing, Section 8, Rural Housing, and Low-Income Tax Credit Housing (PDF, 369 KB)
This excerpt from Guide to Immigrant Eligibility for Federal Programs provides information on housing programs available to immigrants and specifies what status of immigrants are eligible.
Office of Refugee Resettlement State Resource Map
This office, which falls under the Administration for Children & Families, has an interactive map that provides information on local agencies that help immigrants and refugees.
The Refugee Center Online offers resources that have been curated by resettled refugees and immigrants. The site has free GED and U.S. Citizenship Test classes, provides help with resumes, and offers information on how to obtain a driver’s license.
This coalition of U.S.-based non-governmental organizations is dedicated to refugee protection and resettlement. The coalition’s website offers comprehensive overviews of the resettlement process and provides refugee policy updates.
ACLU’s Know Your Rights: Immigrants’ Rights Page
Visitors to this page can learn how to respond to various scenarios such as what to do when law enforcement asks about immigration status and how to challenge a deportation order after an arrest.
This organization’s website offers resources ranging from fact sheets on asylum in the United States to pages for each state’s immigration data.
Preparing for Your USCIS Interview
US Citizenship and Immigration Services offers resources designed to help students prepare for the citizenship test.
Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc.: Community Education Toolkit
Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) provides fliers and information sheets on common immigration law issues related to immigrants and communities.
UnidosUS and the Immigration Advocates Network partnered to offer this free app, available for Android and iOS, which gives access to a directory of more than 1,000 free or low-cost nonprofit immigration legal service providers.
Immigration Advocates Network: National Immigration Legal Services Directory
Immigration Advocates Network (IAN) provides a searchable directory for immigration legal service providers by state, county or detention facility.
Immigrant Connection Project (ICON), a partnership between the Vera Institute of Justice and New America, is a resource for parents who have been separated from their children to connect with legal service providers.
Immigrant Defense Project: Resources for Communities
This organization offers helpful resources including a criminal-immigration hotline, guides on how to handle raids by ICE, and educational workshops on the deportation system.
Institute for Policy Studies: Sanctuary Cities Toolkit
The institute has created a guide to getting a sanctuary resolution passed in your city.
International Refugee Assistance Project: Know Your Rights
This organization of law students and lawyers develops and mobilizes assistance for refugees, providing legal aid to displaced people and safeguarding their legal rights.
Kids in Need of Defense Fact Sheet (PDF, 1.5 MB)
Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) has offices nationwide and offers social services and pro bono legal services to children in deportation hearings.
LGBT Freedom and Asylum Network
LGBT Freedom and Asylum Network (FAN) supports LGBT asylum seekers by connecting them to resources, including legal, career and housing services.
National Conference of State Legislatures: Immigration Law Database
National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) maintains a database of laws and adopted resolutions related to immigration and immigrants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The Forum offers fact sheets online about various topics, including information on the origin countries from which immigrants are eligible for temporary protected status, the asylum process, and essentials for naturalization for military personnel and veterans.
National Immigration Law Center: Sanctuary City Toolkit
This NILC toolkit offers resources developed during recent federal and state battles to defend against anti–sanctuary city/community-trust proposals.
The Child Advocate Program at the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights
This Chicago-based human rights organization with offices in Phoenix; Los Angeles; Washington, D.C.; New York; and Houston, San Antonio and Harlingen, Texas, accepts referrals for the appointment of independent child advocates who work with Young Center attorneys and social workers to make recommendations in the immigrant child’s best interest.
Assisting Immigrant Victims of Domestic Violence (PDF, 223 KB)
Developed by the Battered Women’s Justice Project, this guide explores how to respond to immigrant women who have experienced domestic violence and touches on how immigration status can be used against survivors in domestic violence cases.
Detained or Deported: What About My Children?
This toolkit from the Women’s Refugee Commission provides critical information on how to protect parental rights when detained or deported and make well-informed decisions regarding the care of children.
Domestic Violence Fact Sheet: Access to HHS-funded Services for Immigrant Survivors of Domestic Violence
This fact sheet from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) outlines the programs and services administered by HHS that may be eligible to immigrants who have experienced domestic violence.
Engaging Police in Immigrant Communities (EPIC)
Developed by the Vera Institute of Justice, the EPIC project identifies promising law enforcement practices that build trust and strengthen relationships with immigrant communities.
Intimate Partner Violence in Immigrant and Refugee Communities: Challenges, Promising Practices and Recommendations (PDF, 1.9 MB)
This publication, developed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, gives an overview of the prevalence of intimate partner violence among immigrants and refugees, with recommendations for nonprofits, police departments and the courts on how best to address the issue.
Family Preparedness Plan (PDF, 279 KB)
This guide from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center provides assistance in planning for what happens if you cannot care for your child/children and are facing deportation.
Last updated: February 2022