Asylum integration

The Need, The Ask
There is a small community of asylum seekers who were able to come to Eugene in the fall of 2018 as an outcome of the caravan. They have been housed by sponsors who have been sharing their homes. 
The pandemic and the contraction of our nation as a result of the current administration, has added another challenge to the process toward achieving asylum.  The timeline for a final hearing is now indefinite. The asylum seekers are in need of support to integrate into the community of Eugene in a way that honors their goals and needs. 

Some of the goals the asylum seekers are asking for help with are: In person English lessons, driving education, in person counseling and long term independent housing

I am so grateful to all of those who have supported the asylum seekers along their paths toward stability. I am delighted to belong in this community with you.  And I would like to ask, are you willing and able to help me be an active agent in fulfilling these next goals toward stability?

I am able to create and take the precautions for my, and the asylum seekers, health and well-being in order to provide these services. I am also a community organizer and am able to find and support others in doing the same. 

Background and History
Over a year and a half ago, thousands of people from Central America joined in the caravan to escape the unlivable conditions of their homeland. Many families were separated during this flight, those with more mobility and more likelihood of earning income may have been the ones to leave. Men showed up to support their families where they had been harassed, robbed, beaten, threatened, and their homes stolen or burnt down. 

Women showed up fleeing after their father, brothers or partners were killed. Some left to escape domestic enslavement, rape, threat of death or murder of their children. Some showed up as the only hope for their family to have basic needs met through sending resources back home.

After months of risky travel, these families had to choose. Should they present themselves to the border and wait for their number to be called? If so, they may wait weeks or months with no accommodations or provisions. If they sneak across the border and then present themselves, they face being sent back, incarcerated, or shot at.

Once someone made it across the border with the presenting themselves to the immigration officials, they could ask for asylum. If they were not turned back to their unlivable situation in their homeland, they were placed in the ice box. The ice box was kept at around 45 degrees and so many people are placed into a small space that they were not able to lie down to sleep. They also shared an open toilet. This placement lasted anywhere from a week to three weeks.

After being in the ice box, the families were sent to detention. Here families had room to lie down and the temperatures were more livable. But the accommodations are more like a jail cell than a hotel room. Families may spend anywhere from a month to a year in detention waiting to be released.

It is hard to know exactly how many people made it through these obstacles to arrive in Eugene but the number seems to be around 20.

When these families entered, the process of asylum was slow and arduous but achievable. They would be allowed a work permit after about 1 year. They would have a final hearing after about 2 years. If asylum was granted their lives can begin to stabilize.

However, with the pandemic and the current administration, these timelines have changed dramatically. Court hearings have been delayed and not rescheduled. Applications for work permits have been delayed and may never be reviewed or approved. These changes leave the people who have made it here in a precarious position. They can’t return to their homeland for fear of death. They can’t legally work and if they do so illegally, they risk being sent back to their unlivable situation.

Asylum Seekers in Eugene Need our Community Support
The Asylum Seekers who are being hosted in Eugene community member’s homes are now with reduced potential of gaining independence. These people who have fled a life threatening situation, are eager to work. They want to follow the laws and do everything possible to make a sustainable life for themselves and their family. Yet, they are being told they cannot due to the virus and the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

The hosts who have provided the asylum seekers housing are now stuck with having to decide if they will ask the asylum seeker to leave to an unknown destination, or continue to tax their own limited resources as they make their way through the pandemic.

There are some of us in the community who are able to continue to work. Some of us are able to continue to have stability in our daily lives. I am asking those of us for whom this is true, to consider being part of a team to support these asylum seekers.

Current Actions
We are gathering funds to secure housing and land use for asylum seekers. Some folks just need their rent paid until they can get their work permit. Others are happy to own a trailer or RV for a long term home. Those who have been able to get their work permit need to learn to drive. They want support with the emotional stress and trauma of their experiences. They want to have a community where they belong. 

My Qualifications
I am a Mental Health Counselor with a Masters in Counseling, fluent in Spanish and over 20 years of experience in Social Services and counseling. I have education and skills which I have used in previous positions to provide Mental Health Counseling in both English and Spanish. I have taught English as a Second Language for children, Spanish as a Second Language for English speaking adult, Legal Advocacy for women seeking protection for abuse, and play therapy for children who have experienced trauma. 


Hola. My name is Diana Perez. I am from Guerrero Mexico. I have two daughters, Xuana age 4 and Belin, age 8. We live in one room in Eugene right now. My daughters enjoy going to the park for a picnic and they enjoy hiking.

I have applied for asylum because it was dangerous and there is a kind of war happening in my state in Mexico. It was not safe for me and my children and we could not secure a life there. We had to leave our home and our family to come to the U.S. I felt I had to do it so my children could be safe and live in a land where there is not war.

I have applied for my work permit but it has not been approved. I understand that many people who were supposed to get their permits have not gotten them due to changes related to the virus and to the government. I could use your help to meet my family’s needs.

When we first came here, a childhood friend of mine and his family  were my financial sponsor. They paid for my rent and utilities. However, when everything shut down because of the virus, he stopped being able to work. They couldn’t pay my rent. OCAN helped gather funds for me to pay my October and November rent. I have a lease that goes until February. I am looking for an intermediate solution for my housing that can carry me from February until I am granted asylum. I hope to have all the necessary parts together by the time my lease ends.

I need help paying my rent and utilities. In the long run, I would like to have a home, even if it was a trailer or RV, for my daughters and I to live in.

If you are able to help me and my daughters, it would be an amazing gift toward our safety and stability here in Eugene. I am grateful for any help that you might be able to offer.

With humility, Diana

If you have a preference as to how your funds are used, please indicate it in your comments.  


  • Jerry Russell 
    • $200 
    • 21 d


Joanna Castro 
Eugene, OR

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