Response for Vulnerable Populations

Given the migration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, SAMU First Response is operating a 24/7 program designed to address the acute needs of asylum seekers and migrants passing through the D.C. and Maryland area. SAMU works with local government and partner organizations to ensure newcomers have access to comprehensive services, including food, clothing, hygiene facilities, transportation, medical/legal support, and short-term respite.

Since June 2022, SAMU has provided a safe and dignified reception to more than 14,000 asylum seekers. We draw on the experience of our sister organization, SAMU Foundation in Spain, which has a 42-year history of successfully responding to humanitarian emergencies and delivering assistance to communities experiencing complex crises. This comprehensive support includes medical, social, and psychological care to reinstate a sense of security and dignity in those affected. Beyond a warm welcome, our guests are offered the care they deserve. That begins with what is often their first hot meal, essential toiletries and access to hygienic facilities, assistance in navigating resources, and help with onward travel plans or connection to local agencies for long-term case management services. In the shifting immigration landscape, SAMU is a beacon of light providing immediate humanitarian aid while restoring dignity to immigrants arriving in the United States.

What have we accomplished?

SAMU has aided over 14,000 asylum seekers from the southern border, offering trauma-informed care for their diverse physical, emotional, and social needs. Employing a three – pronged strategy — intake, shelter, and service coordination — SAMU ensures agile and culturally competent support. A concise yet thorough intake process facilitates data collection, informing resource allocation based on identified trends and needs.

Our locations

SAMU´s Respite Center in Washington, D.C., is a secure five-story building, that ensures safety and security 24/7. Beyond offering basic amenities and sleeping arrangements, the center caters to all ages with play zones, volleyball courts, and computer labs. SAMU´s holistic programming focuses on emotional well-being and independence through training, workshops, and personalized case management. This comprehensive approach not only provides a safe and comfortable refuge for asylum seekers, but also facilitates a seamless transition to a new and hopeful chapter in their lives.

SAMU´s Respite Center in Montgomery County, Maryland, plays a crucial role in providing essential short-term accommodations and support for newcomers, particularly individuals and families passing through the region. These services are especially vital for those who cannot immediately proceed to their final destinations and those whose final destinations are still being determined.