As part of a global network, Red Cross and Red Crescent teams have long delivered humanitarian relief to refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers around the world. In line with Red Cross fundamental principles the Guatemalan Red Cross, Honduran Red Cross, and Mexican Red Cross provide aid such as medical care, drinking water, and family reconnection services to migrants walking through Central America and Mexico.
Here at home, the American Red Cross helps migrants in a number of ways, including responding to requests for services and support from government authorities and other nonprofits assisting the needs of migrants. Here are more details about how the American Red Cross helps refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants in the United States:
During natural disasters or other emergencies, the Red Cross delivers help to whoever needs it. People who have disaster-related needs are not required to be American citizens in order to access Red Cross services. That means that when hurricanes, wildfires, or floods strike, we offer help regardless of immigration status. That includes access to assistance such as emergency shelter, food, first aid, clean-up kits, and comfort. The Red Cross does not ask families to show identification in order to stay in our shelters.
Every year, people lose touch with their loved ones as a result of conflict, disaster, or migration. The three simple words, “I am alive” may be all that’s needed to ease the minds of parents, children, and siblings. That’s why the American Red Cross has, for decades, reconnected separated family members around the world and helped people search for missing loved ones.
As part of our Restoring Family Links program, the American Red Cross provides peace of mind to thousands of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants in the United States by helping them reconnect with their families abroad. Sometimes, we leverage the global Red Cross and Red Crescent network to help people trace separated family members—which can take years. The American Red Cross offers this tracing service all across the United States. People looking for loved ones separated by international conflict, disaster, or migration can call our helpline at 844-782-9441 or visit their local Red Cross chapter.
Other times, the Red Cross empowers people to call their families back home and assure them that they are safe. Use of a phone—which is a seemingly small intervention—can be crucial for the physical and mental well-being of migrants’ and refugees’ families back home. In 2017, the American Red Cross facilitated nearly 6,000 phone calls of migrants and refugees in the United States. The American Red Cross carries out phone call projects for migrants and refugees in Arizona, California, Illinois and Texas.
Read about two sisters reunited after 72 years.
The American Red Cross can help migrants housed in federal immigration facilities when invited by federal government authorities. For example, when the US government asked us for assistance in 2014, we provided basic aid like blankets and hygiene kits to children at federal immigration centers, and we facilitated phone calls to loved ones back home.
The American Red Cross also supports independent or community-based housing and migrant sheltering operations in local communities. For example, earlier this year, the American Red Cross supported 11 independently-operated shelters helping migrants in the states of Texas, Arizona and California. Our teams provided some 14,500 supplies including cots, blankets, diapers, comfort kits and other items.
Red Cross Principles
As part of the global Red Cross Red Crescent network, the American Red Cross is guided by the seven fundamental principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. This means we provide services to people who need them in times of emergency—regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or citizenship status.