At World Relief Memphis, we often reflect on America as a country of immigrants and displaced persons. Throughout the generations, people have immigrated to the U.S. and established new lives. That continues today!
Entrants are just one of these immigrant groups.
The amount of competing information around immigration can be overwhelming. But World Relief has been welcoming immigrants in partnership with churches and compassionate individuals like you since the 1970s, and for over 10 years here in Memphis!
World Relief Memphis specifically assists those who are seeking safety through various pathways established by the United States Government. In this five-part series, with help from our Initial Welcoming Services and Newcomer Outreach Service teams, we will be sharing the various legal pathways to the U.S., how those pathways began, how we come alongside new arrivals, and how you can join us in welcome.
Compared to the other immigrant statuses we have gone over in this series, the term or label “entrant” is a bit more nuanced. The USCIS defines entrant as “benefit eligibility rather than an immigration status.” Those given the entrant label are those from Cuba or Haiti who have been accepted into the federal Cuban-Haitian Entrant Program (CHEP). This program was included in the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980 (REAA). In the REAA, the qualifications of receiving the benefits of CHEP are listed as:
- An individual granted parole as a Cuban-Haitian Entrant (Status Pending) or any other special status subsequently established under the immigration laws for nationals of Cuba or Haiti.
- A national of Cuba or Haiti who is not subject to a final, non-appealable and legally enforceable removal order, and:
- Was paroled into the United States and has not acquired any other status under the Immigration and Nationality Act; or
- Is in removal proceedings under the Immigration and Nationality Act; or
- Has an application for asylum pending with USCIS.
So, those in the CHEP are often in a status limbo. Many have been granted temporary parole or are awaiting asylum approval, while others may already have their Permanent Residence Card (Green Card).
*To learn more about the background and details of the Entrant program see the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration website.
The U.S. Cuban-Haitian Entrant Program Process
The process to be accepted in the Cuban-Haitian Entrant Program begins with individuals seeking residence in the United States presenting themselves at a border crossing to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Those individuals submit specific documentation and meet the qualifications under the REAA to be accepted.
Once approved, the “USCIS coordinates the reception, processing and community placement of Cubans and Haitians paroled into the United States.” The USCIS works through various agreements and contracts with organizations to provide the assistance and services granted through CHEP. One of these agreements is with the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which is how World Relief Memphis is able to take on CHEs as program participants.
What We Do
As mentioned above, World Relief Memphis can receive Cuban and Haitian Entrant clients because of our partnership with ORR.
Much like when we receive parolees, our office is not notified when someone accepted into CHEP arrives. When they do arrive, our Newcomer Outreach team are the ones who oversee their cases. Over the allotted benefit time, a caseworker aids the individual or family in accessing their benefits. This includes signing up for eligible government programs vital to ensuring self-sufficiency, such as:
- Refugee Cash and Medical Assistance
- Social Security
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- Federal Student Aid
In addition to these federal services, our Cuban and Haitian clients can enroll in our other service lines for extended case management:
- Economic Empowerment: aids in job readiness, application processes, and job placement.
- Holistic Support Services: aids clients in health and wellness goals, especially clients with additional vulnerabilities
- Refugee and Immigrant Youth Services: provides school enrollment services, group mentoring, and one-on-one mentoring where refugee and immigrant youth learn how to set and meet goals in their personal, school, and post-school life.
- The Connect Language Center: English as a Second Language (ESL) program open to program participants and the general public. Here, students are enrolled in ESL classes of varying levels depending on starting knowledge.
How You Can Help
The immigration system is broken and it can be overwhelming to learn about and know where you fit in. While we might be tempted to look away, the love of Christ compels us to turn toward the need — to consistently and lovingly step toward those who are hurting. If you’re like us, you’re asking yourself: How can I make a difference and create lasting change when the problems in the world are so big?
The good news is none of us has to take this journey alone. World Relief Memphis has been present and working in this city for over 10 years and is equipped with 80 years of connections and expertise through the World Relief global network. Most importantly, we have been partnering with you, the local church and community to make Memphis a more just and welcoming community.
Here are 4 ways you can be a part of lasting change:
- Learn: There is always something to learn in the resettlement world. World Relief Memphis has a Workshop with courses to learn more about cross-cultural friendships with our newest neighbors, reflections on biblical thoughts about immigration, and more!
- Advocate: You have a voice to change the immigration system for the better! Check out our Advocate Page to see how you can use your voice to advocate for reform and protection for asylum seekers and others at the U.S.-Mexico border.
- Volunteer: Want to walk alongside individuals and families here in Memphis? Check out our volunteer page to see what opportunity is right for you. You can do everything from apartment setups, driving clients to ESL classes, and mentoring refugee and immigrant youth, to joining a Good Neighbor Team where you welcome and walk alongside a refugee family for the first 6 months of their time in the U.S.
- Give: When you give to World Relief Memphis, whether once or monthly, monetarily or gift in kind, you make a big difference in the lives refugees and other immigrants in vulnerable situations.
Writer: Kara Spencer
Communication Coordinator at World Relief Memphis, graduate of Harding University, & Memphis native.
If you would like to learn more about World Relief Memphis in the coming months, follow us on social media and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on events and volunteer opportunities.
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