U.S. Border Response
We continue to see the devastating effects of current U.S. immigration policy. Many people attempting to legally seek asylum as they enter the U.S. at our southern border are being treated as criminals and thousands of families have been torn apart.
How HIAS Is Responding:
- HIAS has now opened four offices in Mexico in Juarez, Monterrey, Tijuana, and Mexicali. We are providing people with legal services and information — including legal assistance for asylum in the U.S. and Mexico, legal representation to stay in Mexico, and Know Your Rights workshops — and mental health services and gender-based violence prevention as well. We also provide legal services in Matamoros. HIAS works with partners on the U.S. side of the border for true cross-border collaboration. In particular, HIAS helps to obtain legal representation in the U.S. for asylum seekers stuck in Mexico under the Remain in Mexico policy.
- We have launched an emergency response program to ensure that asylum seekers have access to legal representation. HIAS is proud to have placed Border Fellows in non-profit legal organizations along the southern border to increase their capacity to provide legal representation to asylum seekers in and out of detention. One fellow is working out of our affiliate, JFS San Diego, and three fellows are working with partners in El Paso, Texas: Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services, and the El Paso Immigration Collaborative (EPIC); and one fellow is working with the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR) in Brownsville, Texas.
- Given the evolving situation regarding COVID-19, for the safety of our staff and volunteers, HIAS has suspended all in-person client meetings and all non-essential travel, including delegations to the border. We are however still actively recruiting volunteers to help asylum seekers remotely. Spanish-speaking individuals can volunteer remotely to support HIAS' Border Response Team in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, providing services to asylum seekers. Find out more and sign up here. If you are a lawyer and interested in helping, you can offer your legal services doing remote pro bono representation of asylum seekers at the border. Please see our Pro Bono page where you can sign up for our monthly orientation and for more information.
- Since 2018 HIAS has organized a variety of border delegations to assist asylum seekers. There have been human rights delegations and regular delegations of pro bono attorneys have traveled to the border to provide legal services and build on the work being done by the HIAS Border Fellows.
HIAS works with partner agencies to create videos for asylum seekers in an effort to better inform them of current U.S. programs and ensure that they understand their rights.
Know Your Rights Video for people in the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program:
Information about the Prompt Asylum Claim Review (PACR) and Asylum Cooperation Agreement (ACA) programs:
- We continue to mobilize the Jewish community to be a strong, persistent moral voice in support of fair, humane treatment of asylum seekers and we engage in asylum advocacy in Washington. More than 500 HIAS supporters joined 60+ meetings with Members of Congress at their district offices. Read about an action here to deliver a letter signed by 1,200 Jewish clergy in support of the rights, dignity, and safety of asylum seekers.
- 150+ Jewish leaders traveled on witnessing delegations to the border with HIAS, to better understand the complexities and injustices of the U.S. asylum system, and to equip them with the knowledge and tools to be effective moral leaders. The trips were co-sponsored by Jewish partner organizations such as T'ruah: A Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, Anti-Defamation League, and the Jewish Funders Network.
- Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) and HIAS are working together to provide representation to forcibly separated immigrant and refugee families who have come to the United States seeking safety.
Find out about ways to take action for refugees and asylum seekers here.
See the stories below for how HIAS has been working to help asylum seekers at the border since the crisis started.