HIAS Blog

Raising the Red Flag on LGBTI Asylum Obstacles in the U.S.

Posted by Mark Hetfield on Mon, Jan 13, 2014 at 11:37 am

With 76 countries having severe criminal penalties for being gay, the most vulnerable group in the world today is refugees who are sexual minorities. They are the marginalized among the marginalized, the least protected among the least protected. They live under a constant threat, forced to hide their identities and live in fear.

Each year, thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people flee to the U.S. in search of safety. But upon reaching our shores, they are often


HIAS Urges Israel to Adopt Humane Asylum System

Posted by Mark Hetfield on Wed, Nov 27, 2013 at 13:24 pm

Last week I attended the formal launch of the “Affirmations for Faith Leaders,” at the Religions for Peace 9th World Congress. The Affirmations, a document HIAS helped draft earlier this year, calls on faith leaders around the world and from all faiths to welcome, protect, and honor refugees in their communities. I was proud to stand with my colleagues and felt a sense of hope for the plight of refugees around the world.

However, despite the efforts of non-governmental


HIAS Helps Garner International Interfaith Support for Refugees

Posted by HIAS – NY on Thu, Nov 21, 2013 at 11:51 am

Faith and protection—these are two values that embody HIAS’ work around the world, and these also were the two central themes of the United Nations Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) Dialogue on Protection Challenges last year, which inspired the drafting and circulation of the interfaith document Welcoming the Stranger: Affirmations for Faith Leaders.

Earlier today, Mark Hetfield, HIAS’ President & CEO, attended a formal launch and endorsement of the Affirmations, which took place at the Religions for


Report from the Field: Syrian Refugees in Jordan

Posted by HIAS – NY on Tue, Nov 12, 2013 at 11:21 am

Every day, some 5,000 people flee Syria, eager to escape unrelenting violence and the dearth of food, water, and shelter that has left many parts of the country practically uninhabitable. As of October 2013, more than 115,000 people have been killed in the conflict. About four million people have been displaced within the country, and two million Syrian refugees—including a million children—have fled to neighboring states, including Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. Medical care, housing, education, and employment are limited for


Mobilizing Assistance for the Latest Victims from Sudan

Posted by HIAS – NY on Tue, Nov 12, 2013 at 11:14 am

Eleven months after the resurgence of inter-ethnic violence in western Darfur, HIAS staff receives 100 to 150 Sudanese refugees every day at the Ab Gadam refugee camp welcome center, the camp’s central hub of community activities. Each arriving refugee is greeted and given a hot meal before being assigned lodging alongside the 20,340 refugees already living in the newest of HIAS’ camps in eastern Chad.

At Ab Gadam, the displaced find protection against cross-border incursions and receive a variety of aid


Iraqi Single Mom Makes a New Start in Seattle

Posted by HIAS – NY on Mon, Nov 11, 2013 at 18:19 pm

One year after arriving in the United States, Sawsan, an Iraqi refugee single mother with three kids, found an inner strength she never knew she had. “I am confident now, and I feel I can do even more than people in families with two parents,” she says. “I found myself here.”

Sawsan could never have imagined feeling this way just a few years ago. When she first married her husband, a successful construction company owner, their home and family in Baghdad


Providing Detained Immigrants Access to Representation and Justice

Posted by HIAS – NY on Fri, Oct 25, 2013 at 14:20 pm

Imagine barely escaping a targeted, brutal attack on your family by armed militants or experiencing persecution triggered by your sexual orientation, making your way to the welcoming shores of the United States—and being immediately detained and imprisoned without any access to legal counsel or representation. This is the harsh reality of thousands of asylum seekers searching for haven in the United States.

A December 2011 Cardozo Law Review report entitled Access To Justice: The Availability and Adequacy of Counsel in


Aiding Israel’s Refugees, One Class at a Time

Posted by Sara Stern, Founder & Manager, The Schoolhouse on Mon, Oct 21, 2013 at 16:05 pm

While living in Jerusalem in late 2007, I began to notice increasingly frequent radio headlines drawing attention to the growing number of African refugees crossing the border each day into Israel. I had a strong urge to help them. It was clear to me that if these people took great risks to flee their countries and were knocking on our door, we must reach out and offer assistance. For the next three years, I volunteered with the refugees and asylum


LGBT Volunteers Help Congolese Refugee Call California Home

Posted by HIAS – NY on Tue, Oct 15, 2013 at 11:48 am

Scott and Victor vividly recall the first time they saw Edward*, the Congolese refugee they’d volunteered to house when he arrived in the United States. He was walking through the airport gates with his homeland security papers on a lanyard tied around his neck. “I couldn’t imagine being in his shoes,” says Scott, a dedicated advocate in the LGBTI community. “After all he’s experienced, the amount of blind trust you need to have that you’ll end up okay is just


Pew Poll on Jewish Americans Creates Space to Support Refugees

Posted by HIAS – DC on Tue, Oct 15, 2013 at 9:37 am

The findings from the Pew Research Center’s recent survey, A Portrait of Jewish Americans, have already sparked many discussions about what it means to be Jewish in America, whether or not we should be concerned by increasing rates of intermarriage and secularism, and the role that social justice plays in Jewish identity.

While there certainly is a rise in intermarriage and secularism in our community, 94% of U.S. Jews still say they are proud to be Jewish and 56%


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