June 18, 2021

Max J. Rosenthal, HIAS.org

Ahead of World Refugee Day on Sunday, the United Nations has confirmed things are only getting worse for displaced persons around the world.

UNHCR, the U.N.’s refugee agency, published its annual Global Trends report on June 18, which showed 82.4 million people around the world were forcibly displaced in 2020 — nearly the same population as all of Germany or Turkey. That number, which has more than doubled in the past decade (and increased for nine years in a row), represents the largest population of forcibly displaced people in history.

“We’re talking about…


June 17, 2021

Max J. Rosenthal, HIAS.org

One night, when he still lived in his native Russia, Ilia invited another man home. When they met, the man said he wanted to leave to buy some wine for the pair.

“But when he came back, he was not alone,” Ilia said. “There was three guys with guns and knives.” The men attacked and badly injured Ilia, solely because he was gay.

“Before they left, they said that if I call anybody, they have all my IDs, they have all the information about my family,” Ilia said. …


June 16, 2021

Max J. Rosenthal, HIAS.org

(Sally Hayden/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

When Yusuf escaped his home country, he lost his family. But within minutes of arriving in the United States for the first time, he found a new one.

On Aug. 1, 2014, the young refugee from eastern Africa landed at San Francisco International Airport speaking almost no English and barely able to believe he’d been given the chance to resettle in America. Dazed, he stepped off his flight and followed the other passengers, hoping they would bring him to the right place.

Yusuf* eventually reached baggage claim…


Blog Post

Yiftach Millo, HIAS Aruba Country Director

I want to tell you about Adam.

Adam — not his real name — is who I think about during Pride month. I have worked on LGBTQ refugee issues for many years, but my story on its own is not enough; Adam’s story shows the urgency of work with LGBTQ refugees and the leadership for change that is needed.

I have always had a deep sense of not belonging. Growing up in Israel with my non-conforming sexual orientation gave me an additional layered sense of alienation. Perhaps this is why I was…


June 04, 2021

Max J. Rosenthal

No one knows the value of welcoming refugees to the United States better than Wolf Blitzer.

The renowned CNN host is the son of Holocaust survivors who were able to leave Europe after World War II thanks to American visas and help from HIAS. Blitzer’s family settled in Buffalo, New York, where he says locals of all religions gave the new Jewish immigrants a warm welcome.

“My dad always said it wasn’t just the Jewish community that opened the doors and helped my family … The Buffalonians, the Jews and the non-Jews welcomed these…


June 01, 2021

Sharon Samber, HIAS.org

(Brian Otieno for HIAS)

In 2011 Yiftach Millo went out in search of the invisible.

In his field research over the next year, Millo found many LGBTQ refugees in Ecuador, Ghana, Israel, and Kenya living secret lives. Forced to hide from homophobic violence, they were also hidden from refugee assistance agencies. Although these refugees were among the most vulnerable members of the population, refugee protection professionals hardly knew of their existence, let alone of their specific protection needs.

To help make these people’s needs more visible, Millo, who is himself a gay man and…


May 27, 2021

Max J. Rosenthal, HIAS.org

(Apu Gomes/Getty Images)

Recent weeks have seen good news about the supposed crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. The Biden administration has taken important steps to allow asylum seekers into the United States and release unaccompanied children who try to cross the border and end up in government custody. Despite this progress, however, the administration has not reversed a draconian Trump-era policy that is driving much of the border problem.

The use of that policy, called Title 42, is now gaining wider attention — and earning more and more criticism.

“Title 42” is part…


May 25, 2021

Sharon Samber, HIAS.org

(Isadora Romero for HIAS)

When Sabrina Lustgarten first started as HIAS Ecuador’s country director, her personal connection was the stuff of family lore. With her new promotion, she hopes to continue her mission and HIAS’ mission to help ensure the futures of many more families.

When Lustgarten’s grandparents fled World War II it was HIAS that stepped in to make certain they got to rebuild their lives in Colombia. It was an intervention that the family never forgot. And so it was with a sense of history and gratitude that Lustgarten began her career…


May 19, 2021

Max J. Rosenthal, HIAS.org

(Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Earlier this month, President Biden announced he was raising the United States’ annual refugee admissions cap to 62,500, a significant increase from its previous, historically low level.

It was an important, long-delayed step in repairing America’s refugee resettlement system. But, as two HIAS officials explain in a guest essay for the New York Times, those repairs require far more effort from both the Biden administration and, hopefully, Congress.

Melanie Nezer, HIAS’ senior vice president of public affairs, and León Rodríguez, a HIAS board member who is a former director…


May 14, 2021

Sharon Samber, HIAS.org

Claris has been waiting for six years to hug her children.

After fleeing Cameroon for her personal safety, Claris sought asylum in the U.S. HIAS helped her win her asylum case and get a green card, but Claris’ children were still back in Cameroon. This year, she finally got approval for them to come and join her.

Yesterday, on a sunny morning at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, Claris finally got to wrap her arms around her two kids. The last time she could do that her daughter, Blossom, was 5, and her son…

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