WELCOME TO THE EAHR

WHo we are

The Evaluation Alliance for Human Rights (EAHR) recruits and trains volunteer physicians and mental health professionals to provide free medical and psychological evaluations for individuals seeking asylum and other types of humanitarian immigration protection, who otherwise could not obtain this vital evidence.

Building upon the foundations of the Arizona Asylum Network, the EAHR was established in 2021 as a project of the International Rescue Committee to address critical, unmet need for evaluation services nationwide. The evaluators, partners, and staff who comprise the EAHR represent a wide range of communities and areas of expertise within in the fields of medicine, mental health, and immigration law. We are united by our shared commitments to justice, trauma-informed best practice, professional integrity, and collaboration.

A doctor holding the hands with two unaccompanied minors walking next to an IRC staff member. Above the image, there is a quote attributed to an Evaluation Alliance legal partner that reads: “In some instances, for clients who have suffered brutal torture… an exam that could easily have been retraumatizing for them becomes an empowering experience with the help of a patient and thoughtful volunteer...  The scars that remain allow the asylum-seeker to bear witness to their history, to make known the injustices done to them, and in doing so gain their protection and freedom in the form of a grant of asylum.”Two refugees holding hands with a quote attributed to an Evaluation Alliance volunteer that reads: "“I've been a clinical social worker since 1986 and have been in full-time private practice since 1994. Without question, my experience writing mental health evaluations for immigrants has been the most rewarding aspect of my career.”Two asylum-seekers photographed from the knee down. One is a small child wearing sandals, the other is an adult wearing a GPS monitor on their ankle. Over the image, there is a quote attributed to the EAHR legal partner that reads, "Health professionals play a vital role in educating the courts on the inter-play between mental health conditions and acquiring information.  As immigration law becomes more complex, the need for pro bono services is even greater… I can attest as a practicing attorney that in a number of cases, the testimony of a physician or a therapist was instrumental in the approval of the case.”A case manager meets with two asylum-seekers at a desk. Over the image, there is a quote attributed to an Evaluation Alliance volunteer that reads, "Asylum-seekers are some of the most vulnerable members of our community and being an evaluator was a way I could use my skills to do what I can to build a stronger foundation for them to thrive. It is a way of using the privileges I’ve been given to make a difference in our immigration systems.”A child asylum-seeker hugs their mother, photographed from behind. Over the image is a quote attributed to an Evaluation Alliance program participant who was granted asylum in 2021 with support from a volunteer-conducted evaluation that reads, "My life has changed… I can now live well without fear.”

why evaluations matter

Medical and mental health evaluations provide critical evidentiary support for humanitarian immigration claims by documenting the physical and psychological wounds caused by human rights violations and the impact of these traumas on the immigration applicant. These findings are then submitted as evidence for the individual's immigration case in the form of an expert witness affidavit.

In immigration proceedings, the burden of proof is on asylum-seekers to establish that they meet the legal definition of a refugee. If applicants are unable to meet this burden of proof, they are at immediate risk of deportation, most often back to the same country where they claim serious risk of torture, death, or human rights abuses.

Research from The Center for Victims of Torture indicates that 44% of asylum-seekers in the U.S. are survivors of torture, but due to a range of complex factors, such as their persecutors' deliberate destruction of evidence, the abrupt circumstances that prompt them to flee, or limited means to assemble their case while incarcerated in a U.S. immigration detention facility, asylum-seekers seldom have the opportunity to gather concrete evidence proving the torture and persecution they have survived.

In many cases, asylum-seekers' only available evidence is their testimony to the human rights abuses they have endured. The widespread scarcity of resources and support for building a humanitarian protection claim is a major contributing factor to asylum case denials in the United States:

Pictogram representing the impact of evaluations in asylum cases. 1 in 10 asylum-seekers without access to an attorney or evaluation are granted asylum. 3 in 10 asylum-seekers with attorney representation are granted asylum. 9 in 10 with attorney representation and an evaluation are granted asylum to rebuild their lives in safety in the U.S.
Asylum-seekers constitute a significant proportion of the immigration court background, which reached a record 1.7 million in 2022.

While some survivors can afford to pay for an evaluation, evaluations are prohibitively expensive for many others navigating the U.S. immigration system and increasingly out of reach as a result of immigration policies that limit access to work authorization and safety net benefits for asylum-seekers.

Medical and mental health evaluations can similarly provide substantial evidentiary support for other forms of humanitarian protection, including T-Visas, U-Visas, VAWA petitions, and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.

Silhouette of a refugee parent holding hands with one child, and carrying another child in their other arm.

On average, an evaluation more than doubles the likelihood of an asylum-seeker winning their case to rebuild their life in safety in the United States.

WHERE WE WORK

The EAHR currently has local staff facilitating evaluations from IRC offices in Dallas and Seattle, as well as Tucson through the IRC's Arizona Asylum Network. While telehealth has expanded the possibilities for providing evaluations to applicants based outside of these cities, we can only arrange evaluations in the states of Arizona, Texas, and Washington at this time due to complex cross-state licensure regulations and restrictions.


Our local programs are supported by a dedicated National Support Team who oversee EAHR's wider strategy and growth. Please contact our National Team with inquiries pertaining to volunteer training curricula, organizational partnerships, development opportunities, or overall program structure.

OUR APPROACH

Case manager taking notes in meeting with two asylum-seekers.

EAHR staff receive and process referrals for evaluations from immigration case representatives, then pair referred applicants with medical and mental health experts in their community for evaluations. To ensure that all EAHR evaluations meet a high-quality standard, we provide clinical and logistical support to our ever-growing network of partners and volunteer evaluators throughout every step of the evaluation process:

  • EAHR staff coordinate appointment logistics, including arrangements for exam venue, interpretation, and accommodations as needed.

  • EAHR staff are on-call during every evaluation appointment to assist with any challenges that may arise, ranging from technical difficulties to crisis intervention.

  • All EAHR volunteers receive ongoing training, clinical support, and access to a resource library for writing their affidavits. As a key step in the volunteer onboarding process, all new volunteers are paired with an experienced evaluator for 1:1 mentorship before their first evaluation.

  • All evaluations receive feedback from an EAHR staff member or peer review from a highly-experienced evaluator.

  • To ensure the independence and objectivity of our evaluations, EAHR staff liaise between legal representatives and evaluators, such that there is no direct communication between the legal representative and the volunteer evaluator.

While the EAHR team can support links to outside resources for ongoing care to address critical medical or mental health needs identified during an evaluation, EAHR does not provide any form of treatment or advocacy.

The EAHR model is specifically designed to offer consultation, support, and community to all of our volunteers and partners, in an effort to cultivate resilience and growth within ourselves and the communities we collectively serve. We are committed to taking measures to reduce burnout and secondary traumatic stress, expanding opportunities for our volunteers' professional development and training, and building a program upon supportive interpersonal relationships and evidence-based, trauma-informed best practices.

Two unaccompanied children walk holding hands with a doctor and IRC staff member.

OUR GUIDING VALUES

HEALING ACTIONS AND TRAUMA-INFORMED PRACTICE

We are committed to facilitating healing and mitigating harm. While evaluators cannot offer treatment to applicants in their role conducting independent assessments, EAHR staff and partners aim to incorporate trauma-informed best practices and healing actions to support applicants - and each other - throughout every step of the evaluation process.

JUSTICE AND

EQUITY

We recognize that our work is intrinsically tied to global systems of oppression that impact all of the partners, relationships, and services that comprise the EAHR. In all decisions informing program culture, growth, and strategy, we strive to contribute to the greater collective effort of undoing oppression, increasing accessibility, and upholding the human rights and dignity of all.

PROFESSIONAL INTEGRITY AND COLLABORATION

The EAHR’s efforts to bear witness to injustice and promote equity are intrinsically collaborative. We amplify and incorporate the expertise of staff, partners, and participants to maximize the program’s impact. We work closely with survivors and our legal, clinical, and community partners to continually refine program best practices.