Casa Marianella: Home for Asylum Seekers and LIRS Partner in Alternatives to Detention

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Casa MarianellaCasa Marianella is an important LIRS partner, and today I’m proud to share the story of some of their successes. 

“Casa Marianella: A Home For Asylum Seekers,” is a radio/online feature by Futuro Media Group, an independent nonprofit media organization founded in April 2010 by award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa. The story, by Boston-based freelance reporter and radio producer Amy Bracken, recounts the experiences of migrants fleeing violence and finding refuge in the Austin, Texas shelter Casa Marianella.

Casa Marianella’s emergency shelter for adult immigrants provides housing and food for up to 35 immigrants, English classes, and case management to help residents assess their problems, access services (medical, legal, etc.) and achieve their goals.

Casa Marianella, at the time the story appeared on October 25, was the refuge of a mother of four the reporter calls “Lydia.” She had fled her home in Honduras, where her husband slashed her with a machete, about a year earlier. Lydia says that as she tried to make her way to safety in the United States, she was locked in a smuggler’s “stash house” and placed in solitary confinement by U.S. authorities for 25 days.

Casa Marianella and the vulnerable migrants living there take center stage in Bracken’s story, of course. But I’m grateful that Anna Campbell, the National Network Coordinator of LIRS’s Access to Justice unit, is able to offer her observations. She makes her comments in connection with LIRS’s multi-site, seven-community Community Support Initiative, which is dedicated to piloting alternatives to detention with local partners such as Casa Marianella. For, as Bracken notes, LIRS is “out to show the government that letting asylum seekers live freely is healthier for the individual and society at large.”

Here is what my colleague Anna Campbell observes about Casa Marianella, one of the initiative’s partners:

So far, what I’ve seen, and this is completely just from my own observations, is that individuals are happy. Individuals enrolled in this project are able to take a deep breath and relax and enjoy and really rehabilitate from some of the trauma and experiences they’re fleeing from.

Casa Marianella offers vulnerable migrants a chance at a new life, and as Bracken observes, “having a life is something Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service feels is important.”

It’s true. Having a life is important, and I’m proud that LIRS can walk with vulnerable migrants as they claim that human right. I’m grateful that Casa Marianella and LIRS were featured in this piece by Bracken,  a reporting fellow at the French-American Foundation, and through The Futuro Media Group, which is dedicated to producing multimedia journalism that explores and gives voice to the diversity of the American experience.

Congratulations, Casa Marianella!

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