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September 2, 2021

Bill Swersey — Vice President, Communications

In mid-August, as thousands were clamoring to escape the chaos in Afghanistan, HIAS received an urgent request from officials at The New York Times.

The news outlet wanted to know if it would be possible to provide support for their current and former Afghan workers and their families who were being evacuated to Mexico City. After quickly working out an agreement between the two organizations, a group of eight HIAS Mexico staff deployed from the north of the country to Mexico City to prepare for the arriving evacuees.

The Times was…

August 31, 2021

Sharon Samber,

Dale Schwartz, a long-time member of the HIAS board and past HIAS board chair, died August 27.

As an immigration attorney, Schwartz advocated for those who needed more of a voice, and was known as a force to be reckoned with.

“He was a larger-than-life presence who was steadfast in his activism for immigrant, refugee, and civil rights,” said HIAS Chair Bob Aronson and HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield in a joint statement. …

August 30, 2021

Sharon Samber,

“There is no process,” HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield told CNN’s Bianna Golodryga when asked how Afghans would be resettled in the U.S.

Hetfield said HIAS was told by the State Department to prepare, along with the other resettlement agencies, for 50,000 parolees — that is, people who are in the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) process but were not able to complete that process in Afghanistan.

HIAS will eventually get federal support for this population, Hetfield explained, but the U.S. doesn’t have a mechanism to fund people who are paroled into the country…

August 30, 2021

Dan Friedman,

Betsy Jenkins was watching her foster sons playing with each other in the yard when she saw the email, “Extra help needed for new refugee apartment move-in, can you help?”

“I really felt like it was the perfect way to use my resources, to use the energy that people have right now.” …

August 27, 2021

Sharon Samber,

(Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times)

For the past few weeks, Yalda Afif, an Afghan program officer for HIAS in New York, and Bahar*, a resettled Afghan refugee who now volunteers for the organization, have fielded scores of phone calls from family, friends, and others in Afghanistan, desperate for help as the country quickly fell to the Taliban.

For this special episode of our Crossing Borders podcast, journalist Rhoda Metcalfe spoke with the two HIAS workers, who have listened to the anguished pleas of their countrymen, fearful of getting trapped along with thousands of others at…

August 26, 2021

HIAS Staff

HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield today made an impassioned plea for “leadership on this issue” of how America can evacuate its Afghan allies speaking on Meet the Press Daily with Chuck Todd.

As an immediate measure to address the “bureaucratic calamity” that is preventing people from leaving Afghanistan for safety elsewhere, Hetfield called for the deployment of an empowered envoy directly supervised by the president who could coordinate the disorganized patchwork of agencies currently responsible for overseeing the evacuation of threatened Afghans.

Though overshadowed by the fatal suicide bombings earlier in the day, the…

August 25, 2021

Sharon Samber,

As resettlement agencies around the world prepare to welcome tens of thousands of Afghans evacuated from Kabul, finding housing for the new arrivals is a significant challenge. On Monday, Airbnb announced plans to provide housing for 20,000 Afghan refugees globally. Reports estimate that up to 300,000 Afghans who have been affiliated with the 20-year military engagement may be targets of violence, and thousands are still trying to flee the country.

HIAS has been a long-term partner of Airbnb through the Open Homes initiative that enables the vacation rental host community to offer their homes…

August 23, 2021

Sharon Samber,

HIAS President & CEO Mark Hetfield discusses the crisis in Afghanistan and what to expect as evacuees start to arrive in the U.S. during a briefing call, August 23, 2021.​

Many people may feel practically paralyzed as they watch the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, but HIAS is moving fast.

HIAS staff have traveled to United States military bases to help process those Afghans who made it out of Kabul. HIAS affiliates across the U.S. are getting ready to receive or are already receiving Afghan refugees and ramping up their services.

The priority is, of…

August 23, 2021

(Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Nicholas Guevara)

As the humanitarian crisis continues to unfold in Afghanistan, HIAS and its partners across the United States have leapt into action.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, HIAS resettlement affiliates Jewish Family & Community Services East Bay and Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley are getting ready to welcome roughly 130 Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders between them in August alone, as JWeekly reports. That’s the same number in three weeks that typically arrives in about half a year.

These Afghans are fleeing in an emergency, forced to leave homes…

August 19, 2021

Dan Friedman,

(Courtesy Mia Farrow)

Just over a decade ago, actor and humanitarian Mia Farrow went to Eastern Chad to visit the survivors of the genocide in Western Sudan. Inspired by an earlier visit to Darfur she had made with her son, Ronan, she went to the Goz Amir camp to document the cultural traditions of the refugees from Darfur, cultures and traditions that were in danger of dying out, torn from the villages and lands that gave them life.

Farrow made 14 trips to Chad before the pandemic, but on this trip in 2009 she…


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