their country of origin.
“It’s a hard road for a lot of folks. There’s no access to social services, no food stamps, no cash aid, and they cannot work legally,” Darrah said. “So even if they make it to the U.S., the process is challenging.” FIRM and other community organizations provide subsistence help for asylum seekers and services to support refugee families who resettle to the Fresno area.
WHO’S ALREADY HERE?
The population in the five-county Valley region is about 1.27 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 estimates. Of that, estimates indicate that more than 436,000 – about one out of every three people – were born outside the U.S.
A large majority of the Valley’s immigrants, more than 310,000, are from Mexico. But there are residents here from more than 120 countries and every continent except Antarctica – including about 1,700 from Honduras.
Following Mexico in the number of foreign-born residents in the Valley is India at almost 19,000, then Laos with more than 16,000 and the Philippines at nearly 15,000.
Given the number of immigrant residents who make the Valley their home and the nature of FIRM’s mission to help people in need, Darrah expressed concern with the increasingly polarized and politicized debate over immigration in general and the Honduran caravan in particular.
“This administration has been overwhelmingly clear that they’re not supportive of this process, this caravan,” he said. “Some of these comments about people who are escaping horrendous conditions to seek refuge here, it’s heartbreaking. … You just say, ‘Wow, that’s not reflective of what we believe.’ But it’s what we are reflecting around the world.
“For us it’s not about a political conversation or a philosophical conversation,” he added. “We’re a Christian organization. God has called us to love foreigners and love those who are seeking refuge and aid. That’s what we do every day.”