Vindmans Call for Rebuilding Refugee Program in Ken Burns, NY Times Video

July 5, 2022

Bill Swersey — Vice President, Communications

In 1985, a young filmmaker working on a documentary about the Statue of Liberty, was interviewing recent immigrants on the boardwalk in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, when he came upon a grandmother and her twin grandsons. He stopped and asked what the Statue meant to them.

Nearly 40 years later, an alert reporter would recognize the 10-year-old boys in Ken Burns film “ The Statue of Liberty” as Alexander and Yevgeny Vindman, Jews whose family had fled Soviet Ukraine and were resettled in New York by HIAS, now best known for speaking out about President Trump’s self-proclaimed “ perfect” telephone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. Then Director for European Affairs for the National Security Council Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman had been present during the call and testified about what he heard during Trump’s 2019 impeachment trial.

This spring, the Vindman brothers returned to a bench on the Brighton Beach boardwalk to discuss refugee resettlement. Speaking to a film crew from Ken Burns’ UNUM documentary unit, they explain the role refugees play in strengthening our country. The twins and their older brother, who all served with distinction in the U.S. Army, are walking proof of their assertion.

UNUM uses footage from past Burns projects to help illustrate and explain current events issues and in the NYTimes “Op-Doc” “ America Is Failing Refugees, and Itself,” released on July 4, the Vindmans advocate for the urgent rebuilding of the resettlement infrastructure which was massively scaled back by the Trump Administration.

Originally published at



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HIAS is the international Jewish humanitarian organization that provides vital services to refugees and asylum seekers in 16 countries.