HRI represents immigrant victims of violence. Our clients include victims of human rights abuses seeking asylum in the United States, victims of human trafficking, victims of spousal or child abuse at the hands of a U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident, immigrant children who flee from violence and travel to the U.S. alone, or immigrant children that have been abused, abandoned or neglected by their parents in the U.S.
HRI also provides a range of supportive social services to its legal clients. These include: referrals to partner nonprofit agencies, personal supplies and toiletries, forensic exam referrals, benefits application assistance, job search assistance, group activities, a holiday and winter kit program, and individual guidance.
HRI was founded in January 2000 by Serena Simmons Connelly, a social worker, and Betsy Healy, a lawyer. Both women had worked in the refugee and immigration fields, but felt there was a major service gap that existing providers could not meet. They decided to start the agency on the highest American ideal: Justice for All. Originally the agency only handled political asylum cases, but over the next ten years it expanded to include other abuse situations that traditionally fell through the gaps due to legal status issues: domestic violence cases of women who married U.S. citizens, but never got their own legal status; human trafficking cases; immigrant victims of violent crimes; and parentless children in need of social services, but who had no legal status. The name, Human Rights Initiative, still fits them all.