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Border Shelter Toolkit

Border Shelter Toolkit

Over the last decade, violence and insecurity have driven people from their homes at increasing rates, giving rise to growing numbers of asylum-seekers at the U.S. southern border, particularly families from the North of Central America. As part of the humanitarian response, the U.S. government coordinates with respite shelters across its southwestern land border to provide short-term shelter and support for asylum-seekers released after processing.
A mother and baby at the San Diego Rapid Response Network Migrant Shelter in San Diego, California.

These shelters, who describe their role as providing “hospitality”, have proven vital community partners, providing a safe, orderly, and reliable humanitarian response to those seeking protection from persecution. The families and adults welcomed by the shelters have their immediate basic needs met; are empowered with information on the immigration system, the asylum process, and how to access further assistance; and are assisted in making travel arrangements to reach family sponsors at their destinations.

The Border Shelter Toolkit: Best Practices in Sheltering Asylum-Seeking Families at the U.S. Southern Border is inspired by and for these respite shelters. This compilation draws upon shelter models and best practices that have worked well in supporting asylum-seeking families and adults at the U.S. southern border and is rooted in international and domestic standards and guidance.  Rather than suggesting a singular formula for creating and running a successful respite shelter, the resources in this toolkit can be adapted to fit the specific needs of the host communities at the U.S. southern border and the asylum-seeker guests they welcome.

Inspirational stories of shelters and communities innovating and embracing their role as humanitarians abound from every corner of the border. It is UNHCR’s sincere hope that this toolkit, informed by lessons learned along the border, can guide those committed to such important work and support the resiliency of all involved.