Providing Assistance and Safe-Haven to the World’s Most Vulnerable
One of the central components of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) and its 124-year history of service to over 4.5 million migrants in the United States and around the world has been its commitment to refugees and other victims of persecution. One crucial aspect of HIAS’ refugee protection activity since the late 1970s has been to coordinate the resettlement of over 400,000 Jewish and non-Jewish refugees in communities throughout the United States where they now live in freedom and security. Both American traditions and Jewish teachings emphasize welcoming the stranger. The Jewish commitment to this central value is seen in the 36 references to this principle within the Torah. Jewish tradition also instructs us in principles of Piddyon Shevuyim (redeeming the captive), Chesed (kindness), and Hachnasat Orchim (hospitality), which support a compassionate response to the problems of refugees.
Over the years, HIAS’ refugee work has benefited from close cooperation with other refugee resettlement, assistance and processing agencies; with international organizations like the UN High Commissioner for Refugees; and, through a publicprivate partnership, with the United States government. HIAS commends the Administration, as well as numerous Members of Congress from both parties, for taking a leadership role on refugee protection, and for United States’ crucial contributions to overseas refugee assistance and the admission of refugees into this country.
HIAS is greatly concerned about the continuing plight of the 11.5 million refugees and nearly 21.3 million internally displaced people throughout the world. HIAS notes that, despite offering permanent resettlement to the largest number of refugees of any single country, the United States’ annual admissions of refugees has fallen significantly during the past decade. The U.S. resettled 52,875 refugees in FY 2005 marking a dramatic increase over the years following 9/11 when fewer than 29,000 were admitted each year. However, this is still far fewer than the 132,000 refugees resettled in FY 1992.
HIAS is gravely concerned about the protection and assistance needs of victims of rape, genocide and other persecution – including Darfurian refugees who have sought safe-haven in Chad – who rely on the United States and the international community for their lives and safety.
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Approved, HIAS Board of Directors, March 5, 2001; updated, HIAS Public Policy Committee, June 28, 2005.