A Year+ Later: How First Steps Has Supported Migrants and Asylum Seekers

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Over a year ago, we published the First Steps guide and supplemental volumes for asylum seekers and lawful permanent residents. These three resources have proven invaluable for over two-thousand people who have purchased hard copies or downloaded complimentary e-books.

Step-by-Step Stories

“At least four people have read or studied First Steps and found it to be very helpful… I bought enough copies for our hospitality group. I have read and re-read parts of my copy.”

Ursula Bannister, a member of Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Tacoma, Washington, shared those words. The hospitality group she mentions is Immanuel Place Friends, a group that provides hospitality for detainees released from Tacoma Northwest Detention Center.

Ursula recently quoted First Steps for a newsletter her church sends to the congregation. First Steps provided the definitions she lists for refugees and asylees. Here is Ursula’s excerpt from the church newsletter:

We have hosted 18 released detainees from [Tacoma Northwest Detention Center] since we opened our doors in June 2014. Ten in the last six months; five of those in the last month! Our motto, “All are welcome in this place,” is posted on a large banner in the entry hall.

Women from all parts of the world have spent from one night to 21 months at Immanuel Place. Our residents have arrived from three different continents, seven different countries (Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, China, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Afghanistan) and have spoken six different languages. It is truly a small United Nations.

Our guests come as refugees (suffered past persecution and their government is unwilling or unable to protect them—status approved in another country), asylees (a refugee who cannot return to his/her home country because of past persecution and their status is approved in the U.S. by an asylum officer at USCIS—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services—or an immigration judge in court). Most are asylum seekers.

Besides the initial welcoming we have been transporting our guests to many dentist and doctor’s appointments as well as the Immigration Offices and court rooms. We celebrate their victories, share festive days, and hold them close and pray for them in times of uncertainty.

A welcoming community and place to stay make a big difference in the life of someone who has fled persecution and is seeking safety in a new country. It creates an even bigger impact when the people like Ursula also have useful knowledge to help refugees and asylum seekers as they work toward becoming permanent residents, asylees, and citizens.

Spanish, Korean, and Chinese Translations

Since publishing First Steps in January 2015, LIRS has been working to make the resource accessible to greater numbers of people who need it. To that end, Spanish, Korean, and Chinese translations are now available!

All three publications are available in English and Spanish. The First Steps guide is available in Korean. Recently, the Asylum Seekers supplement has been translated into Chinese by a handful of wonderful volunteers.

All of us here at LIRS would like to extend our warmest thanks and appreciation to the main translator, Chao Wang, for her translation and editing work on First Steps. Because of her work, this resource can now reach Chinese language speakers in the process of seeking asylum in the United States. We would also like to thank Pat Hatch, the Director of Refugee and Immigrant Ministry for the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), and her colleagues Chris Zang and Wen Fan for their contributions to the translation of this supplement.

Get Your Own Copy of First Steps

First Steps books are available for purchase or free download. Have you read First Steps or shared it with a refugee, asylum seeker, or migrant in your community? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “A Year+ Later: How First Steps Has Supported Migrants and Asylum Seekers
  1. Hello,

    I have worked with several different staffers at LIRS a few years ago to translate and publish the Korean version of First Steps and the supplements as well for North Korean refugees resettling in the US. I was informed last year that they stopped distributing the books due to recent changes to the refugee policy. We have a few new North Korean refugees that came through our network and resettled in the US recently and would like to purchase the hard copies and also get the link to download the pdf version as well. Would that be possible? I just tried to obtain the link to get the pdf file, but it says the site is not available anymore.

    Thank you so much for all your hard work. Look forward to hearing from you.

    Best,
    Kris Song
    Liberty in North Korea

    • Hi Kris, thanks for reaching out! LIRS is actually right in the middle of reviewing these resources and updating key legal guidance — which is why they aren’t available in hard copy right now, but you should be able to download a PDF of the original version here: https://www.lirs.org/first-steps

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