Here at Agudas, we are dedicated to the principal of Tikkun Olam, or “Healing the World.” We offer many different opportunities to volunteer in the Austin Community. Please check out some of our current volunteer opportunities below.
Agudas Blue Barrel Project
Other Tikkun Olam Opportunities
Refugee Support: WE WERE STRANGERS ONCE
Asylum seekers – children, women, and men – are incarcerated in remote detention centers throughout Central and South Texas. In Taylor, Karnes City, Pearsall, Conroe, Lincoln, Pearsall, Laredo, and Alvarez, people who have fled their homes are locked up awaiting deportation proceedings. Factors determining which people gain asylum include 1) the country of origin; 2) which judge is making the decision, and 3) whether the asylum seeker has legal representation or not. The odds of gaining asylum are five times higher for people who are represented (http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/491/) but a great many asylum seekers are not represented at all.
The Austin office of Justice for Our Neighbors (a small, non-profit primarily supported by Methodist churches) invites Agudas Achim members and friends to join us in defense of asylum seekers, including both people currently detained and those who have been released from detention
Who seeks asylum?
Our current clients include the following people fleeing persecution at home:
– A journalist from Sierra Leone in danger following publication of an article
– A gay man from Ghana
– Transgender people from Honduras
– Domestic violence survivors from El Salvador
– A campesino whose father and brothers have been murdered because the family wanted to continue to grow corn, squash, and beans – and refused to grow opium
– A political activist survivor from Honduras
– A Christian minister and family fleeing religious persecution in Cameroon
– Children targeted by gang members in Guatemala
– A Mexican woman kidnapped by the Zetas and then released on the condition that she work for them – who quit, and whose entire family is now in grave danger
If, and when, asylum seekers get out of detention, they face enormous obstacles and have great needs, especially because they are not allowed to work in the U.S. for a minimum of 6 months. And there are only a handful of lawyers who represent asylum seekers in deportation proceedings.
YOU NEED NOT BE A LAWYER TO ASSIST.
You can conduct research on conditions in the asylum seekers’ countries of origin.
If you have access to electronic academic journals through the University of Texas or another institution, your help would be especially useful!
You could translate materials or interpret in confidential interviews.
Our greatest need is for Spanish and French translators and interpreters.
You could perform clerical tasks at the office between 1 and 5 pm, Monday – Friday.
If you’ve ever used a copy machine or a scanner, or filed documents, we could use your help!
You could visit people in detention centers.
Warning: a visit to Pearsall or Karnes could radically change your view of the U.S. system of justice. Or such a visit could just change your life.
Lawyers, former lawyers, and law students could conduct legal research.
Do you have access to the expensive private databases such as LexisNexis or Westlaw —- that are beyond the budgets of small non-profits? Would you help us out?
Please write Virginia Raymond, Legal Director at Austin Justice for Our Neighbors,
email@example.com , if you would like to help.