Good afternoon. My name is Russell Smith, and I recently started as the new CEO of Refugee Services of Texas. I am writing to introduce myself, to let you know about RST's response to the crisis at the border, and to ask for your help.
I step into this role at a unique time in our country’s history. In the past few years, we have seen an unprecedented, dramatic drop in the number of refugees admitted into the country. And recently, we have watched as zero tolerance policies have led to the separation of hundreds of children from their families.
There are around 700 families nationwide that will receive family reunification support services. RST is stepping in to this crisis to help. The agency has worked to help unaccompanied children and survivors of trafficking for many years. These programs have seen a dramatic increase in need over the past few months.
Refugee Services of Texas is one partner who will provide comprehensive case management services to families reunited after being separated at the border. We've received an influx already of reunified families (including 22 referrals yesterday) in our Austin, Dallas, and Houston offices.
RST is hiring a Family Reunification Case Manager to address this emerging need, through home visits; introducing families to local resources; assisting them in accessing legal remedies, school, ESL, health and mental health services; and helping them navigate complex systems.
I invite you to join us to make a difference in the lives of families who have been torn apart. A donation to RST will help support the new Family Reunification Case Manager as well as direct client costs needed to assist families. We anticipate the need to keep growing in the short-term, and will transition this position to help work with our already-growing caseload of unaccompanied children and survivors of trafficking when the emergent need subsides.
To support Refugee Services of Texas and our Family Reunification efforts, click the link below. Thank you.
Russell A. Smith, LMSW
CEO of Refugee Services of Texas