Advocacy Updates

Capitol Hill Briefing Details Syria’s Humanitarian and Refugee Crisis

Posted on Thu, Mar 06, 2014 at 11:26 am

Earlier this week, Refugee Council USA—which is a coalition of U.S.-based organizations that welcome and protect refugees, including HIAS—sponsored a briefing on Capitol Hill entitled “Responding to the Syrian Humanitarian and Refugee Crises.” Expert panelists included Erol Kekic, Chair of Refugee Council USA and Director of the Immigration and Refugee Program at Church World Service; Kate Philips Barrasso of the International Rescue Committee; and Ann Willhoite of the Center for Victims of Torture. Over 2.4 million people have fled Syria,

President’s FY15 Budget Includes Increased Support for Refugees

Posted on Tue, Mar 04, 2014 at 11:25 am

Earlier today, the White House released President Obama’s budget for fiscal year 2015, which includes $1.5 billion to aid Syrian refugees and opposition forces within Syria. The budget also maintains crucial for the Office of Refugee Resettlement and increases funding for immigrant integration efforts and immigration courts. Through this budget outline, President Obama again called on Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform, which is expected to reduce the deficit by $158 billion in 10 years. Additionally, the new

State Department Releases 2013 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

Posted on Fri, Feb 28, 2014 at 11:24 am

Yesterday, the U.S. State Department published their 2013 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. These reports are submitted each year to Congress and are intended to inform U.S. government policy and foreign assistance. Reporting on conditions in nearly 200 countries and territories, the reports draw attention to the growing challenges facing individuals and organizations as governments around the world fall short of their obligation to uphold universal human rights. Key human rights developments around the world in 2013

House Committee Looks at Potential Fraud in the U.S. Asylum System

Posted on Tue, Feb 11, 2014 at 16:50 pm

Earlier today, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security held a hearing entitled “Asylum Fraud: Abusing America’s Compassion?“ Expert witnesses included Louis Crocetti, Principal of Immigration Integrity Group, LLC and former Chief of USCIS’ Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate; Jan Ting of Temple University’s Beasley School of Law; Hipolito Acosta, former District Director of USCIS in Houston and INS in Mexico City; and Eleanor Acer, Director of Human Rights First’s Refugee Protection Program.

Administration Announces Exemptions to Broad Terrorism Policies

Posted on Fri, Feb 07, 2014 at 16:47 pm

Earlier this week, discretionary exemptions from the terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds (TRIG) were issued by Secretary Jeh Johnson of the Department of Homeland Security and Secretary John Kerry of the State Department. HIAS applauded these exemptions, which are a step towards fairness after legislation enacted by Congress in 2001 significantly broadened the definition of “terrorist activity” to encompass some activities that had no real-life connection to terrorism. The exemptions are likely to remove legal obstacles for some particularly vulnerable

HIAS Participates in Jewish Disability Advocacy Day

Posted on Thu, Feb 06, 2014 at 16:45 pm

Today, HIAS joined Jewish colleagues from around the country for the fourth annual Jewish Disability Advocacy Day in Washington, DC. Participants used the opportunity as part of Jewish Disability Awareness Month to urge Congress to co-sponsor and pass the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act (H.R. 647), which would allow families and those with disabilities to save private funds to support their health, independence, and quality of life, and to ratify the Convention on the

U.S. Government Revises Naturalization Application Form

Posted on Tue, Feb 04, 2014 at 16:45 pm

Earlier today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a revised form N-400, Application for Naturalization, which includes significant changes to the application’s content and format. The new form has more than doubled in length to 21 pages, including several additional questions related to the applicant’s links to terrorist groups, genocide, militias, prisons, and military training (see recent Washington Post article). USCIS will accept the older version of the N-400 form until May 5th,

GOP Releases Immigration Principles

Posted on Fri, Jan 31, 2014 at 16:37 pm

House Republican leadership recently released a document entitled “GOP Principles on Immigration Reform,” providing a general outline of standards regarding border security, interior enforcement, reforms to the legal immigration system, and a way to address the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S. Several Jewish organizations—including HIAS—welcomed the principles as “an important first step towards addressing the broken U.S. immigration system,” and many members of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition also released

President Obama Calls for Action on Immigration Reform, Help for Syrians, in his State of the Union Address

Posted on Wed, Jan 29, 2014 at 16:34 pm

Last night, President Obama addressed both immigration reform and the crisis in Syria during his State of the Union Address. On immigration reform, he gave a compelling economic argument, declaring that “if we are serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement—and fix our broken immigration system,” and noting that economists claim there will be a $1 trillion deficit decrease if Congress enacts immigration reform.

Congress Passes Government Spending Bill

Posted on Mon, Jan 20, 2014 at 16:32 pm

Last week, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 (H.R. 3547), which will fund the government through September 2014. HIAS celebrated the passage of this legislation, which includes a one-year extension of the Lautenberg Amendment, an increase in funding for the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), an additional $3 billion to support international refugee protection and humanitarian assistance, and allocation of $2.5 million to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for its Citizenship and Integration Grant program.

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