You probably know by now how much I respect, admire, and LISTEN to Dr. Charles Stanley.
His wisdom continues to bless my life in many ways.
He is awesome if you have interest in experiencing life-changing spiritual growth.
If you have a desires to impact your community either through your life or what you do, here are few of Dr. Charles Stanley observations:
As you read this brief message, remember this: You don’t have to be a believer to make a difference. So, that’s not an excuse. Each of us need each other. Our communities need us. (There is a reason why you are still alive and kicking), but if you are a believer, I encourage you to develop an eternal perspective in your use of gifts and talents God has endowed you with.
Leaving a Lasting Impact
On this Independence Day, consider the question, How do you use the gift of freedom? God gives all believers true liberty through His Son Jesus Christ. Do you squander that blessing or share it with others? The problem is, some people are so focused on their own needs and desires that they fail to impact even their closest neighbor.
Think about the people you see every week. Do you know how many of your neighbors are sick? Are there people in your church who struggle to make it from day to day? Do you know if any of your coworkers are going through hardships? Most likely, there are individuals all around you who could use assistance. But being self-focused limits our ability to notice those people, let alone reach out to them.
Jesus taught His disciples, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men” (Matt. 5:13). In order for salt to remain useful, it must maintain its purity and potency. Likewise, we must endeavor to lead holy, humble, and loving lives, focusing on the Savior’s will rather than our own.
God has prepared the good works that we are to walk in (Eph. 2:10). Our job is to choose to do so.
Whether or not we affect our world positively depends on the focus of our heart. Do you look inward to consider how you can do more to get ahead and add to your lot in life? Or do you look outward and think about ways that you can do more to serve others?
Source: www.crosswalk.com/ www.intouch.org
Content curated by:
Joe K. Mungai, MSW, LMSW, CCM, CLPC
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The answer to this question is the subject of this article, but first, how do you even introduce such a topic at a time like this? Healing at a time of plague?
It is not easy to talk about healing and recovery in the middle of a pandemic. But, if George Floyd murder, trial and its outcome teach us something-it’s the fact that we are beginning to appreciate, as a nation, that we cannot go on without confronting rampant incidents of racial injustices in our midst. We are coming to grip with the fact that, we must confront these issues and demand accountability from everyone if we are going to find healing and restoration and be able to trust each other as we work to forge new ways to move ahead as a society.
The trial of the former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin who was found guilty on all the counts he faced over the death of George Floyd has been one of the most closely watched cases in recent memory, setting off a national reckoning on police violence and systemic racism even before the trial commenced.
I invite you to join me as I reflect briefly on two foundational aspect necessary for a community to experience healing and restoration using an excerpt from my new book available at Barnes & Noble online bookstore: HOW TO RISE ABOVE RACISM: A Primer for Understanding the Broader Ramifications of Implicit Bias.
I share this in light of the history of negative experiences of racism, discrimination and implicit bias that many members of minority groups have experienced here in American and abroad.
ALL VOICES ARE IMPORTANT
There is no better place to start the process of Healing and Restoration, than acknowledging that all voices are important.
When it comes to healing and the need for restoration, we cannot start making the necessary changes that are needed in any sector of our lives unless we understand why healing and restoration is necessary. And the voices of those who have experienced the broad ramification of injustices can aid us in this area.
TIP: Things get better when we try to make things better, together. But you can’t say “make a difference” or “change the world” as a team builder, thought leader, academic, or serious leader or thinker and leave people out.
This is why listening to all the voices is important.
Listening to the voices of those affected is the only way we can gain a deeper understanding of how inequity and racism has impacted our lives and our communities. As a society we all need to unite together to learn and grow in this important area.
TIP: The rapidly changing demographics of the United States and the changing demographics taking place in our respective communities require us to be proactive in facilitating respectful conversations that will challenge us to examine our own implicit biases, cultural biases, and stereotypes.
We have to accept that those impacted by injustices for years know best what their needs are, and start involving them in the decisions that impact their lives. This is where healing starts.
The act of listening allows us to seek and utilize input to ensure the changes made align with their needs. This process also helps us with identification of the barriers that the victims of racism face and the systems that create them with a goal of enacting the needed change. Remember, if left unaddressed, these issues will never resolve on their own.
Truth and Reconciliation efforts
Each community has to go beyond wanting healing and restoration to happen or having an interest for such a noble task to take place, and actually show commitment by being proactive and taking positive actions toward this great work.
The Iowa City community leadership in the great state of Iowa where I reside is a good example of what it means to show commitment in this area. The city council officially established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in September 2020.
The purpose of the commission is to address issues of racial injustice in the community it operate and carry out restorative justice, through the collection of testimony and public hearings, with such work to include a recommendation to the community leaders of a plan for making changes that foster equality and progress for all.
It seems to me that this is a good place to start, in dealing with issues that we have ignored for such a long time.
Many people are interested to see a fair and more just society that offer, equality and progress for all, but we have to do more than that, and follow the example of the Iowa City community leadership by showing commitment. We all can participate in this process in one way or another to help move towards healing and restore our communities. I believe great positive results will come out of our individual collective efforts in this endeavor and that’s why I dedicated my new book: HOW TO RISE ABOVE RACISM: A Primer for Understanding the Broader Ramifications of Implicit Bias, to those working hard for a fair and more just society that offers equality and progress for all.
Let’s join hands together and go do it.
Joe’s mission is to help educate others become conscious of their entrapment and empower them so they can find freedom and joy in life. He is passionate about helping people cope and grow through their experiences in life-changing circumstances.
Joe can be reached at: email@example.com
We’re super-excited to share some INCREDIBLE NEWS
I hope this note finds you well. I also, wanted you to know that, My three books are now completely FREE for a limited time on Amazon to download! With all that’s going on in the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing, we know that people are longing for connection, and hope more than ever.
I felt that one of the simplest gestures I could offer to you as a member of my community during this time is to make these three transformational books available for free to help you and others connect through reading and sharing with others what they are learning. There are many ways to share with others even at a time like this as long as someone has something to share. These books give great pointers to share with others, as you inspire, encourage and comfort them. There are already many people just like you who have read them and have used what they have learned not only to challenge and transform their lives but also to guide others and help them enlarge their awareness and discover meaningful ways to share hope with others.
Creating content, researching and writing takes a lot of time and effort, but all we need from you is a positive feedback. leave a positive feedback on Amazon each time you download each book And tell your friends to do the same. Thank you
Normally, all of these books are only available to active ARCI subscribers or for purchase on Amazon but during this time we’ve made them available to any and everyone for the next 5 days. We hope you can write to us and let us know what you think about the topics you are reading. Your feedback and comments are important to me. let me know what other subjects you suggest I write about for our future publications. Email or WhatsApp me at: email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Ph# +1319-325-3225
We know it’s a small gesture, but we hope it’s an encouraging one. Like we always say, “We’re all in this together!”
To get access of the books visit African resources website and access our product page or use this link to access that page on your mobile device or computer. Once there you can get access to all the books from Amazon. Don’t forget to leave a positive feedback on Amazon.
You can also check out our recommended books for good reads from other authors on Amazon here:
With love and hope
Amid the confusion, uncertainty, and constantly-changing environment under the COVID-19, I wanted to remind you that you are part of a community and that you are not alone during this time.
Why do you need to maintain a sense of a community? because it’s easy for us to feel alone or isolated in a time of social distancing. This is especially true now, when our need of the community is at it’s highest level.
It’s also important to not lose hope no matter how difficult the situation feels and look right now. Hope is important because when the world feels uncertain, it’s important to know there is something to pull you forward.
Note: In this article and in other pages you will find blue underlined words (links) where you can click to access more detailed information on the topic at hand to enhance your learning and understanding of the material and to provide you with resources for your own support when necessary.
We are in this together … separately
I have posted helpful information on a new site that I am putting together to help those who might be searching for current updates from trusted sources on how best to deal with the current epidemic. (in case you received this message through email this is for you, otherwise if you are reading my post you are already inside the site. keep reading to know how to access helpful information)
The website where I have this information is not completed yet and so it has not been launched although there is valuable content that’s ready for access, but I felt compelled to put this resource in one location where its accessible by everyone who might be in need.
In the coming days and weeks, as we get more updates, I plan to upload more reliable information from trusted sources on this new platform.
Feel free to head over to ARCI and see what you can learn now or in the next few days and in the days to come. Here is the link: Get Resources. This knowledge will curb the spread of disease and reduce anxiety.
Remember, we are in this together although separately-
In short, we need to come together by NOT coming together, but do our best to stay connected this way.
One more thing:
I hope to continue my small contribution in strengthening our community through sharing of knowledge through this site that am putting together. I also hope that it will be a great source of inspiration and a center for invaluable resources for everyone.
We are working on ways to make the Community even better by adding more diverse resources and topics of mutual interest on this one place. This resource that I share and make available in this location is a good example of that. So, go over and Get Resources.
I pray that the ARCI become a place of enrichment and refreshment as well as a beacon of hope during this unique time.
Remember to enhance your skills and knowledge by reading our recommended books right here.
We’re all in this together,
Joe Mungai, LMSW and the ARCI Team. All Rights Reserved
By Joe K. Mungai, MSW, LMSW, CTP
How well do you understand depression and trauma?
I hope you’ll find the lessons I have learned in the course of my own journey, from an immigrant’s perspective, helpful.
I wrote this article as a resource for members of the African diaspora community struggling with depression, including trauma, and as a tool for those interested in helping those among us who are exhibiting signs and symptoms suggesting depression. The lessons shared though are relevant and applicable to many people all across the globe.
Depression has taken a toll on many people during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a community in diaspora, we have experienced losses; several members of our community have committed suicide, with depression being a major contributor to these horrific tragedies. The struggles with depression among many of our members have been ongoing even before the pandemic hit. But the problem is at its highest level now (both at home and abroad), given the circumstances that many find themselves in, such as lacking resources and support. As a community, we have to act urgently now and come to the aid of those in need. One life lost to suicide is one too many. The loss of a loved one is so devastating, it creates a host of other stressors in life since those impacted experience financial loss, the end of a relationship, and other painful experiences. I addressed this subject in detail, including offering practical steps one can take to start healing from such devastation, in my book, LIFE AFTER LOSS: YOU CAN HEAL YOUR HEART.
This article is about depression, but we will also touch on trauma because of how closely these two (depression & trauma) are connected. People are at risk of developing anxiety or depression after experiencing traumatic events in life. I use the term events instead of an event because research shows, people don’t just experience one event (traumatic event), but, many times, they experience multiple events creating multiple traumas at different times in life. New experiences cause new stressors which can exacerbate past trauma or create new ones. Our past and current situations in life have a lot to do with the struggles we go through as a result of depression and trauma, and how resilient we are on the path towards recovery.
The Journey to Better Opportunities
New experiences such as resettlement after immigrating to a new country can trigger trauma. The pursuit of a better life sometimes becomes a journey that has no breaks or stops. And even when things get better, the cost at which that happens can be too high, creating a whole new set of stressors. That by itself can be a source of trauma that leaves one feeling depressed.
TIP: Trauma is a deeply personal experience that no one can define for someone else. What might look like insignificant experience for one person can be a huge source of trauma for another person.
Members of refugee community including immigrants are likely to grieve the loss of familiar surroundings they left behind in their home countries for the promise of a better life. For the most part, this is in search of greener pastures, or safety. Not long ago, I read a post on a WhatsApp group that said, “many of us living abroad are economic refuges,” and rightly so, because many of us come from nations that are economically depressed. And so we left to seek better opportunities. The situations in our home countries were created by corruption, poor political leadership, wars, and state-sponsored tribal clashes.
TIP: Not everyone who experiences trauma will develop depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Trauma Informed Care
Evidence based research has helped us understand more and more about the impact trauma has on people and so trauma informed care is being pushed for use as a mode of treatment in the mental health field including other systems affecting human lives. This calls on us to consider our past experiences as well as those we are undergoing right now. In your own life, you need to be aware of how you are interacting with new experiences, and how you are responding to those from the past. I highly encourage you to put effort to understand the basics of trauma informed care not just for the way it will positively change how you treat yourself (with dignity and care), but also as it relates to the way you minister to other people by being mindful of their total well-being.
What is Depression?
Depression is a serious mood disorder that causes severe symptoms that affect how one feels and thinks. It affects one’s activities such as eating, sleeping or working (source: National institute of mental health).
Depression makes a person feel trapped inside themselves. It creates (makes one feel) a sense of desperation, fear and hopelessness.
I have heard people who have experienced depression say, depression can start just like how rain starts – slowly, little by little, but quickly turn into a flash flood and completely overwhelm a person. Whether it’s a teenager or an adult struggling with depression, it is painful both emotionally and mentally.
For a number of reasons, depression can go undetected and undiagnosed, leading to devastating consequences because of lack of treatment. When you know you have depression, address it immediately. If depression lingers for two weeks or more, that can be an indication that you are suffering from clinical depression.
TIP: Clinical depression is the more-severe form of depression, also known as major depression or major depressive disorder. It isn’t the same as depression caused by a loss, such as the death of a loved one, or a medical condition, such as a thyroid disorder. (Dr. Daniel Hall-Flavin: Mayo Clinic’s experts)
What are the Tell-tale Signs of Depression?
Depression ranges in seriousness from mild, temporary cases of sadness, to severe, persistent episodes.
Many people suffering from depression may:
Feel sad, hopeless or empty.
Feel extremely tired with no explanation.
Have difficulty falling asleep, or sleeping too much.
Not getting pleasure from activities they once enjoyed.
Additional behaviors that could be signs of depression include:
Physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive problems, and pain
This list is in no way exhaustive.
Depression and Suicide
Not everyone experiencing depression thinks about death or considers suicide, but a number of people do so after being depressed for a while, especially in case of clinical depression. Some of the people who, because of depression, start having suicidal thoughts, act on those thoughts.
As I mentioned earlier, our community has lost a number of people to suicide. The same has happened to people we know in our home countries.
It’s never easy for the family and friends who are left by someone who commits suicide. When the family gets the news of a loved one having committed suicide, they are first hit by shock and disbelief. Suicide creates a lot of distress to those who are left behind. Research shows it takes an average of four to seven years for families to grieve and to come to terms with the death of their loved one as a result of suicide, before they can start healing from the pain and horror. This is not to say that they get over it. I don’t think losing a family member or a friend to suicide is something you ever get over. Even after many years, a memory may trigger anguish, as if the death has just happened. Suicide leaves a gaping hole in the hearts of loved ones in the family as a whole. By God’s grace, the loss may eventually be smoothed out by love and care for one another among those who are left.
Don’t wait until depression overtakes you like a flood. Seek help before it’s too late.
Who is at Risk of Committing Suicide?
Those who feel trapped in their current situation right now.
Those who are depressed or have experienced depression in the past.
Those who have attempted suicide in the past.
Those experiencing hopelessness and don’t see any reason to be alive.
A person experiencing these negative feelings can quickly fall prey to suicide. In fact, research supports that observation; loss of meaningful relationships, lack of purpose or meaning in life and hopelessness is the #1 reason many people commit suicide. Loss of both purpose and important relationships can lead to depression, which can lead to a host of other negative feelings that push people towards thinking of suicide.
What about Trauma?
There are a few things you need to know about trauma.
As I mentioned earlier people may be at risk of developing anxiety or depression after experiencing a traumatic event. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines trauma as “a person’s emotional response to an extremely negative (disturbing) event that someone has been exposed to.”
According to DSM, exposure to elements that cause traumatic events must result from one or more of the following situations, in which the individual:
Directly experiences the traumatic event.
Witnesses the traumatic event in person.
Learns that the traumatic event occurred to a close family member or close friend (with the actual or threatened death being either violent or accidental).
Experiences first-hand, repeated, or extreme exposure to aversive (unpleasant) details of the traumatic event (does not learn about it through media, pictures, television, or movies, except for work-related events) Source: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)
People respond to traumatic events in different ways. What this means, is that we are all affected by trauma differently. Even when two people, for example, have experienced similar situations, each one of them will come out impacted differently. That’s why it’s never right to compare two different people who might have experienced similar events in life but came out of it differently. One person might still be in need of more time to recover when another person who was hit by the same experience seems totally unaffected. I have heard of people asking their friends or family members, “when will you ever get over this, like so and so?” Research continues to explore why different people respond or react to trauma differently, but one thing is clear: those who have experienced trauma in the past and found resources and support during their traumatic experience have high chances of recovery and are able to move on quickly with life than someone who has never recovered from a past trauma, or someone who faced one traumatic event after another, leaving them without enough time to recover. Lack of resources or having less support during traumatic events determines how quick a person recovers or become resilient and ready to face future life challenges once again. And so, depression or trauma is not something you can tell someone to just snap out of.
TIP: The need for resources is essential to help individuals process their experience in a healthy way and to regain hope through secure and safe emotional connections.
I was impressed not too long ago when I learned in a WhatsApp group that one of our active community organizers had started a food items collection drive in their church with the goal of making food available to fellow immigrants given the dire situation many of them find themselves in right now, because of the disruptions caused by COVID-19 pandemic. Meeting people’s basic needs is a great way of lessening the impact of stress when people are experiencing a traumatic event. This is one of the reasons I wrote my new book, ADJUSTING TO LIFE IN AMERICA (The Ultimate Guide: What You Need to Know). It’s a resource guide aimed at helping immigrants and members of refuge community understand the resources and supports that can make a difference while living abroad and at the same time provide guidance about where to find such resources, including how to make use of them to improve their quality of life.
How Do You Overcome and Arise Above Depression and Trauma?
Research shows one way to recover from trauma is by building safety and empowerment in your life, among other things. Trauma causes us to lose trust, feel unsafe and disempowered. And so, it makes sense that to heal and recover from it, feeling safe and empowered is paramount. If you are a parent and your kids have experienced trauma, it’s important you know: safety and well-being equal better outcomes for them and for the whole family. This is because safety and well-being nurture stability.
Here are some things you can start doing right now to feel safe and minimize the effects of depression or suicidal thoughts.
Don’t stay isolated. Stay connected with people you trust and share (even on the phone) your story with them. We heal by telling our stories.
Seek out emotional support and socialize (even on the phone) with friends and family members.
Learn strategies for making social connections so that you can get involved in social activities and hobbies of your liking.
Learn ways to manage stress, such as meditation and mindfulness. We have posted several articles related to managing stress and more on our website: Africanresourecescenter.net
Guard your sleep; make sure you are sleeping enough. Stick to a regular schedule and make healthy lifestyle choices, including nutritionally healthy meals to help promote better mental health and recovery.
When it comes to making major decisions in life like changing jobs or relocating, it’s important to delay them until your depression symptoms improve.
Avoid too much caffeine or alcohol so as not to interfere with your sleep, in order to allow your mind to recover and heal.
Avoid known stressors when you are coping with a tough situation, or after a stressful event.
Avoid situations and people whom you know will add stress to your life. Be creative when it comes to dealing with your family members, including being vocal with them if they are the source of additional stress.
Practice faith in action. Never doubt in the dark what you have believed in the light. This means that you have to refuse to doubt or forget what you have always believed (positive beliefs) or how God has seen you through in the past- during the time of need. Tell your heart to beat again.
Keep a journal. Writing down experiences help find healing. When you write, a pen becomes a powerful tool that helps you to transfer some of what you feel from your deep innermost being on to a paper. You can even go a step further and write your experiences in a book in a way they will make a difference in the life of another person. That way, you end up making lemonade out of lemon. You can use your experiences (even negative) to make something you can share with the world. Your experiences become an extension of yourself and a powerful way to impact others and make the world a better place. If you have read my book, BROKEN JUSTICE: WHEN LAWLESS GANGS CAPTURE THE STATE, you understand what I mean by this concept. The world is waiting for your message, and that message is hidden in your story that life experiences have given you.
Helping Someone Cope with Depression or a Traumatic Event
Let’s be our brother’s keeper and check on each other and allow ourselves to be a bridge that others can use to find help and support.
I know it’s tough trying to help when a person doesn’t want to talk about how they feel or what happened. It can be hard to keep making the effort to get the person to respond, especially if you feel you’re being pushed away. But you’re in a good place to help when you:
» Understand the definition of depression or traumatic event.
» Can identify some of the signs and symptoms.
» Are willing to keep offering help even if it’s not accepted at first.
Remember, your caring supportive attitude to those struggling with depression or after a traumatic event may make a big difference in how well and how fast the traumatized person recovers.
If you do this, then my writing of this article will not be in vain.
Those who are leaders in our community know we are doing all we can to address the issue of suicide. I ask that we find more creative ways to become strong allies in helping each other find resources and share them with those in our sphere of influence who need help. It’s in that spirit that I request your help to share this article far and wide. I’m optimistic that our efforts in sharing of resources will contribute to improving health outcomes for all who apply what is shared and learned.
Trauma and Unhealthy Ways of Coping
As a coach, when working with my students through the process of finding their purpose in life, this is what I tell them: what you choose to not deal with will ultimately become the governor of your life (consciously or unconsciously) and mostly in a destructive way. This is the reason you see people doing things which for the most part, they don’t know why they do them – addiction, destructive lifestyles, inappropriate relationships, risky behaviors, and others of similar kind. This is the nature of unresolved trauma, which includes dealing with past loss and grief, aftermath of war and violence (domestic abuse), and childhood abuse. All these are capable of producing destructive behaviors in one’s life.
The Body Keeps the Score
Perhaps you have heard about the saying, “the body keeps the score,” made famous by Bessel Van Der Kolk, a leading trauma specialist in 2014. He made that saying famous through his work, research and sharing with the world about the impact of trauma on the body and mind. Now, if the body- mind keep scores of everything that has happened to a person (traumatic experiences), when the deep emotional hurts (caused by traumatic events) go unaddressed, they start finding ways to come out and most of the time; they do it in unhealthy ways.
Do you feel irritable, isolated or withdrawn? Do you find yourself working all the time? Drinking too much? These could be part of unhealthy coping strategies and may be clues that you are depressed or you have unsolved trauma; you need to seek help or at least start the process of addressing them using healthy coping strategies.
Anger and rage that is hard to control when it’s awakened could be another clue that you are struggling with trauma. If you constantly walk around full of rage and you feel like a ticking bomb waiting to be touched so you can blow up, that could be a sign of unresolved trauma. Knowing the problem helps you start working towards your healing. Don’t wait until you blow up and leave behind destruction that will look worse than that of a wild fire. The source of this anger is mostly deep unresolved hurts.
Many people keep the feelings and experiences that are eating them from inside locked up. They do not share with a trusted person, in order to get the feelings out. As we noted earlier, we heal by telling our stories.
Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Help
We all need a little help to deal with life events that cause us stress. Many effective treatments are available for depression. So don’t try to tough it out on your own; the outcome could be perilous.
Remember, without treatment, depression is unlikely to go away for some people, and it may get worse. Evidence-based research shows that untreated depression can make you and the people close to you miserable. It can cause problems in every aspect of your life, including your health, career, relationships, your personal safety and that of others.
I want you to know:
If you find yourself thinking how you may hurt yourself or having thoughts of attempting suicide, get help right away!
Here in America, Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
Call a suicide hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use its webchat on suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat and speak to someone.
Talk to a friend, a family member, a local pastor, a spiritual leader or a faith person in your community. This is important no matter how hard it may be to talk about your feelings.
It’s a sign of strength to ask for advice or seek help when you need it.
Upon reading this article, if you have questions, please feel free to contact me – email@example.com
About the Author
As a life skill coach, a therapist, and a licensed chaplain, Joe’s mission is to help educate others become conscious of their entrapment and empower them so they can find freedom and joy in life. He is passionate about helping people cope and grow through their experiences in life-changing circumstances.
Joe is a social worker researcher, therapist and an author and is the founder of African Resources Center International – (www.africanresourcescenter.net) a platform focused on helping immigrants and refuge community adjust to life in America. He is the author of seven books including ADJUSTING TO LIFE IN AMERICA: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE OF WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW which he wrote to orient and educate immigrants and members of refuge community as they adjust in America.
Joe can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope this finds you and your loved ones safe and well. The past several weeks have been difficult for everyone, and know that we at the African Resources Center International (ARCI) are thinking of you.
Note: In this article and in other pages you will find blue underlined words (links) where you can click to access more detailed information on the topic at hand to enhance your learning and understanding of the material and to provide you with resources for your own support when necessary.
The resource below provide some education to Immigrants and members of refugee community on the subject of Unemployment Insurance. Also, do not forget to visit our products page to see what other resources are available for you. And our free resources page.
Allow me to make a brief observation here before continuing with our subject of Immigrants and UI.
Many programs and agencies providing support and services to the public right now are grappling with the impact of COVID19, and we are no exception. However, as we continue to monitor the changes brought about by Covid-19 ARCI will continue to support members of our community during these challenging and uncertain times.
We are committed to serving you- and keeping you informed is our top priority, especially during these trying times.
Our analysis of the subject at hand of Immigrant & Unemployment Insurance benefit ((UI) is part of serving you especially at a time like this. UI is one of the benefits that a lot of people are tapping into during cancelled days’ work that many workers are experiencing right now.
Let’s dive in together in this current subject.
The answer is yes, but Immigrants have to overcome two hurdles. (1) They must meet the same state requirements as everyone else. (2) And according to federal law, immigrant workers must further qualify by belonging to one of the immigration categories approved for unemployment insurance.
States determine whether individuals are eligible for benefits based on several eligibility requirements.
#1. They must be unemployed through no fault of their own.
#2. They must have enough wages earned or hours worked to establish a claim.
#3. They must be available and searching for work and cannot refuse any “suitable” work.
My Tip:States are required to make it possible for everyone to access unemployment benefits which includes facilitating interpretation and translation for individuals with Limited English Proficiency (LEP). This policy is designed to better enforce and implement an existing obligation: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits recipients of federal financial assistance from discriminating based on national origin by, among other things, failing to provide meaningful access to individuals who are limited English proficient (LEP).
One thing I have often noted though and the reason I put together (an Immigrant resource book) that shows you how to address various subjects yourself – saving yourself a lot of money- is that, many legal qualified immigrants’ workers fail to apply for Unemployment insurance because they confuse it with welfare benefits. And hence they don’t access this benefit for fear of becoming a public charge. Being a public charge means being dependent on government assistance in order to pay for the costs of living.
My Tip: Unemployment Benefits” denotes that this Person has already been working in the US and has recently been laid off. Unemployment benefits should not be mixed up with Welfare benefits or Temporary disability benefits. One can receive Unemployment Benefits with a PR or EAD
TIP: Some UI requirements are currently waved in many cities that are on lock down because of the impact of COVID-19 epidemic. Check with your local workforce center to understand your situation better.
All legal workers Qualify for UI
According to the National Employment Law Project, anyone who has worked in the United States, including immigrants, is eligible to receive state-administered unemployment benefits.
Immigrants and members of refugee community are eligible for UI as long as they are in America legally and satisfy Federal categories to qualify for unemployment Insurance in addition to the State requirements highlighted above.
Undocumented and Drawing Unemployment
It’s not that there are no cases of individuals who fall in the category of illegal immigrants or undocumented group that apply for unemployment using the same information they use for seeking employment. But it’s a risk that many are not willing to take and rightly so, because it might hurt or affect their eligibility for naturalization: for example, by casting doubt on their showing of good moral character and hence becoming inadmissible.
If you have read Want to Live in America: Your Pathway to Legal Status, a book I have done everything I can to make it affordable and accessible – (shows you how to address and handle various immigration subjects yourself – saving you tons of money) – you realize that, eligibility for naturalization is something to think about ahead of time and plan accordingly If you plan to become a U.S citizen in the future. This is because you don’t want to create or allow a situation that might cause USCIS to decide that you do not have “good moral character,” which could result in a denial of your application for naturalization. Good moral character is a requirement for naturalization.
But don’t confuse unemployment benefits with public charge which can cause someone to fall in that category of inadmissible to the United States and ineligible to become a lawful permanent resident that is tied to some status of Green card application. The main reason is that you do not have to show that you are “admissible” to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. Remember, public charge means being dependent on government assistance in order to pay for the costs of living. That’s why, if you immigrated through family, you had to have a financial sponsor to prevent you from depending on government assistance in order to pay for the costs of your living for example, and hence become a public charge.
There is, however, no “public charge” bar to receiving naturalization in the United States. Note also that: it’s not all status of green card holders that are affected by public charge immigration policy.
TIP: Many Immigration attorneys will tell you that, as long as you received the public benefits lawfully (without using fraud, for example), it will not hurt or affect your eligibility for naturalization in any way.
If you think though that you received benefits when you shouldn’t have (which can happen sometimes unknowingly), talk to an attorney about whether you qualify for U.S. citizenship before completing your application. For example, many U.S. government agencies that provide public assistance require that you let them know if you are going to be outside of the country for 30 days or more at a time. Under these circumstances, they will stop paying benefits to you. Since some people do not know about this requirement, they often receive benefits they are ineligible to receive because they are not in the United States. One example would be food stamps. If you did not receive public benefits illegally or improperly, however, your receipt of public benefits will not affect your chances of becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen.
(Source: nolo.com legal encyclopedia)
TIP: If you are in a search for an immigration attorney ARCI has unvetted suggested list of lawyers for legal representation referrals.
Undocumented Immigrants and U.S Workers’ Rights
Research shows that, undocumented workers have the same rights in terms of minimum wage pay and other labor laws including unpaid overtime and back pay.
Believe it or not, individuals within the category of illegal immigrants are eligible for workers’ compensation, even when they are not approved for unemployment insurance. Labor standards laws still apply to individuals categorized as illegal aliens, such as the minimum wage, hours of labor or prevailing wage on public construction projects. But many people are unaware of these labor standards, or they are not sure how to ask about them or they are outright not interested with them because of many other factors.
According to Pew Research Center the number of undocumented immigrants account for 5% of the American workforce, and it’s unavoidable that some of these employees will get injured on the job. And many times, out of fear of retaliation based on their immigration status, these injuries go unreported and the financial burden is left on the shoulders of undocumented workers and their families.
William H. Beaumont, an attorney who handles worker’s rights and worker’s compensations in Chicago stated that “Fear of retaliation is the # 1 motivator keeping these types of incidences from being reported. In these and many other situations it is imperative for you if you find yourself in undocumented immigrant category to consult with a worker’s compensation attorney experienced with undocumented and/or unauthorized employees if you feel that you need help. If you feel you or a loved one are questioning what rights, you have – contact your state bar association for help with your situation.
TIP: Being paid under the table is a non-factor in making sure you are being treated with dignity and that your rights are being upheld.
Remember that, undocumented workers are due the same protections for wages and overtime pay as their documented counterparts as outlined in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
NOTE: This site is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. But- If you are in a search for an immigrationattorney ARCI maintains unvetted suggested list of lawyers for referral purposes only.
If you are an attorney, therapist or a service provider who would like to offer your services to immigrants and refugees email me with your contact information at email@example.com and we’ll put your name on this list.