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 six non-profit legal organizations along the southern border to increase their capacity to provide legal representation to asylum seekers in and out of detention. Two fellows are 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 remotelySpanish-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 hereIf 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:

    Spanish

    Portuguese 

    K’iche (Indigenous Guatemalan language)

    Information about the Prompt Asylum Claim Review (PACR) and Asylum Cooperation Agreement (ACA) programs:

    Spanish

  • 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.


 

At the Border of Hope and Despair

Sep 06, 2019

HIAS Board Chair Bob Aronson shares his thoughts after recently seeing the situation up close in El Paso, TX, and Juarez, Mexico.

Interview: Naomi Steinberg on Changing U.S. Refugee and Asylum Policy

Aug 13, 2019

HIAS Vice President for Policy and Advocacy Naomi Steinberg shares her perspective on changing US immigration policies amid the current massive global refugee crisis.

WATCH: Melanie Nezer's TED Talk on Why Asylum is a Fundamental Right

Jul 30, 2019

HIAS Senior Vice President for Public Affairs Melanie Nezer shares an urgently needed historical perspective on the crisis at the southern U.S. border.

Update: More Than 1500 Jewish Clergy Sign Petition to Protect Asylum

Jul 23, 2019

More than 1400 Jewish clergy members signed a petition calling on elected officials to protect the legal right to seek asylum in the U.S., and on July 18, a delegation of rabbis, attorneys, and advocates went to Capitol Hill to deliver it to key members of Congress.

WATCH: A Day in the Life of HIAS Border Fellow Luis Gonzalez

Jul 17, 2019

Watch “A Day in the Life of HIAS Border Fellow Luis Gonzalez” to see what making a difference looks like firsthand.
Asylum video screenshot

WATCH: Asylum, An Essential Lifeline

Jun 25, 2019

Asylum is in the news a lot these days. Borders closed, children forcibly separated from parents, people detained in cages. Yet, many of us still don’t know what asylum really means and how it works. Watch our new video to learn more.

On Their Own Time, Lawyers Helping at the Border

May 21, 2019

HIAS-led delegations of pro bono attorneys travel to the border to provide additional legal services and build on the work being done by the HIAS Border Fellows

Border Fellow Helps Those Seeking a "Glimmer of Hope"

Apr 09, 2019

Nicolas Palazzo is the new HIAS Border Fellow working in El Paso, Texas.

Jewish Clergy at U.S.-Mexico Border Examine Human Rights Issues

Apr 02, 2019

Last week more than 20 rabbis, cantors, and activists went to the U.S. -Mexico border in a human rights delegation led by HIAS and T’ruah, the rabbinic human rights organization.

Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen Testifies on Border Security

Mar 06, 2019

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen today defended the Trump Administration’s declaration of a national emergency at the Southern border and asked for changes in laws regarding the process of asylum seekers into the United States.

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