Austin’s growing refugee community and domestic violence rates
Austin is home to about 12,000 refugees and asylum seekers from across the world. Refugee status or asylum may be granted to people who have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of race, religion, nationality, and/or membership in a particular social group or political opinion.
Asylum seekers arriving in Austin are primarily from Bosnia, Burma, Cuba, Sudan, Vietnam, Cuba, Bhutan, Iran, Iraq, Nepal, DR Congo, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. Casa Marianella, an emergency shelter for displaced immigrants, welcomes an average of 325 refugees per year.
In the last year, Central and South Texas have seen a sharp increase in asylum seekers. Following the 2021 U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, tens of thousands of Afghans have sought asylum in the U.S. Texas has welcomed the second highest number of asylum seekers in the nation.
Refugees and asylum seekers arrive fleeing threats of persecution, torture, and death. But in the U.S., they face a new set of challenges, including a lack of resources, complex immigration laws, and a harsh political environment.
Refugees and asylum seekers also report higher rates of domestic violence, particularly separated and divorced women. A recent report found 41% of clients surveyed experienced domestic violence.
A report by the International Rescue Committee found that a majority of refugee and displaced women surveyed experienced an escalation in domestic violence during the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic forced victims to spend more time with their abusers and prevented many from seeking safe living arrangements.
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