An Overseas Adventure Becomes a Nightmare
Imagine this: You are a U.S. Citizen who moves overseas to start a new adventure with your spouse and four children. That adventure quickly becomes a nightmare when your partner becomes angry and abusive, causing you and your children to flee for safety. Your spouse has control of your finances, leaving you destitute. You need to return to the U.S. to seek safety, but without family or finances to help you, you are scared, alone, and unsure of how to get back.
Now, imagine the added complication of worrying whether you and your children will be allowed to enter the U.S. because you are fleeing from a country on the U.S. travel ban list.
This is the scenario that **Tina and her children faced before being helped by the Repatriation program.
Repatriating Tina Back to the U.S. During the Travel Ban
The U.S. Repatriation program provides assistance to eligible people who are destitute, severely ill, or suffering from psychological disorders and who need to return to the United States. The program is established to help the most vulnerable who have no other resources to do this on their own. Returning U.S. citizens are expected to pay back their travel and assistance loans as soon as they can. Although the repatriation program can provide assistance in the form of a loan for up to 90 days, many individuals and families are able to become independent within an average of 30 days or less with the help of their case managers.
Samaritas Collaborates to Resettle Tina
Providing cross-border services to vulnerable returning populations is impossible without effective partners in the state where a client is returning. International Social Service-USA, the U.S. repatriation partner of the U.S. government, coordinates services between the sending U.S. consulates overseas and the state-appointed partner. In this particular scenario, the partner appointed by the State of Michigan, where our client was returning, is Samaritas.
Samaritas is the largest refugee resettlement, foster care, and adoption organization in Michigan. “Samaritas has 40 programs in 70 cities across Michigan, making it the second or third largest social service organization in Michigan,” stated Mihaela Mitrofan, Program Manager, New Americans. “With a diverse, multilingual staff of recent as well as born and raised Americans, there is wide coverage across the state and vast expertise working with children, families, and adults in a variety of capacities. Samaritas is an ideal repatriation program partner,” stated Julie Gilbert Rosicky, CEO of ISS-USA.
When Tina and her children were scheduled to arrive in Detroit earlier this year, Samaritas appointed a case manager to meet them at the airport. Because there was some concern about whether this American family would be allowed to enter the U.S. from a Middle Eastern country, International Social Service and Samaritas caseworkers were on standby to do whatever was needed to assist if the family was detained or if the return trip was delayed or rescheduled.
Fortunately, Tina and her children arrived as scheduled and were greeted by a caseworker who also happened to be from the Middle Eastern country from where they were fleeing. She provided them with familiar food as well as warm clothes upon their arrival to help them adjust from a warm climate to Detroit in the dead of winter. Samaritas caseworkers graciously picked them up in the early evening from the airport and took them to a family shelter, where they stayed temporarily until more permanent arrangements could be made.
Caseworkers Help Tina Acclimate to a New Environment
The caseworker worked with Tina to find employment, counseling for victims of domestic violence, permanent housing, and a school where the children could be enrolled. One of the children had a learning disability, so the case manager helped Tina find local services to address the learning disability. The case manager, having gone through the resettlement process as a former refugee when she was a child, formed an immediate bond with this family, which still continues long after services were concluded. Together, they developed a case management plan to help get them back on their feet as quickly as possible.
**Names and some details have been changed in this account to protect the confidentiality and anonymity of the family involved.