Help Support Our Human Rights Clinic

October 5th, 2015    News

For over 20 years, HealthRight’s Human Rights Clinic (HRC) has helped the most marginalized immigrants in the United States—those who have experienced horrific torture, abuse and persecution, but who arrive outside of the formal refugee resettlement system and are therefore forced to prove their suffering in order to guarantee their safety.

The HRC trains and deploys physicians and mental health professionals to provide pro bono evaluations that document the physical and psychological scars of abuse. These evaluations are used to support survivors’ legal cases in immigration court, and are often the deciding factor in whether a survivor is able to remain in the U.S. free of torture and abuse. Because gaining legal status is just the first step in achieving safety and stability, the HRC simultaneously works with survivors to connect them to the medical, psychological, social and other services that they need to pursue healthy, productive lives in the U.S.

In recent years, our services have been critical in helping to stabilize the lives of vulnerable immigrant populations including:

  • Unaccompanied migrant children fleeing gang violence, abuse and neglect in their home countries
  • Women and children escaping severe domestic abuse
  • Sexual and gender minorities escaping persecution in countries where homophobia and transphobia are rampant, and where being LGBT is itself a crime
  • Political activists who have been tortured, humiliated and abused for their beliefs
  • Survivors of human trafficking who have been exploited and abused in countless ways
  • Women and girls who have suffered – or are fleeing their home countries to avoid – female genital cutting or mutilation

Working in 12 states around the country, the HRC has assisted nearly 5,000 survivors of torture and abuse from over 130 countries around the globe. More than 90% of the clients we serve gain legal status in the U.S., and our work has never been more critical than it is today amidst the current refugee crisis. Attorneys are requesting high quality forensic evaluations for their clients more frequently than ever before, and without well-trained and supported pro bono clinicians, the service would be out of reach for the vast majority of the vulnerable clients we serve.

Despite the evident need, the HRC’s services have always been difficult to fund. The program’s work at the nexus of the medical, psychological, legal and social welfare sectors is its great asset and value, but has also made it a less obvious fit for the compartmentalized funding streams of many traditional donors.

With the help of the HRC and our partners, foreign-born survivors of torture and abuse can and do overcome the trauma of their experiences to pursue productive lives in the U.S. Investing in the HRC will ensure that we can meet the growing and ever changing needs of the thousands of immigrant survivors who will be seeking our services in the months and years to come. Click the donate button below and indicate that your donation is for the Human Rights Clinic.

For more information, please contact Lauren Pesso, HRC Program Director, at 212-992-6132 or lauren.pesso@healthright.org.