News & Views

HIAS Pennsylvania’s 2022 Wish List for Immigration

Join us this Monday at 10AM, as we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with our 3rd annual MLK, Jr., Day of Advocacy and Action. This virtual event will feature a panel of experts on the recent Afghan and Haitian crises, and give you the opportunity to ask a question. We will conclude with calls for action, including writing letters to your legislators advocating for fair immigration practices.

Does advocacy really make a difference? Here are just a few of our advocacy wins from 2021 that HIAS PA’s staff, partners, and friends made happen. We hope these successes will motivate all of you to join us as we embark on implementing our advocacy resolutions for 2022.

2021 Successes

✓ Representation for immigrants in detention.

Immigrants in detention are the only incarcerated individuals not eligible for a state-funded lawyer. The Pennsylvania Immigrant Family Unity Project (PAIFUP), a collaborative created by HIAS Pennsylvania, Nationalities Services Center, the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center (PIRC), the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC), Juntos, Make the Road Pennsylvania and many more, works to change this.

  • Our specific goal was to provide government-funded counsel for immigrants in detention through PAIFUP. 
  • We were successful in getting three years of government funding from two different jurisdictions – Philadelphia and Pittsburgh – so that some immigrants from these places who are being detained can get representation.

✓ Improved language and technology access for immigrants in schools.

As education moved virtual, the lack of language and technology access caused students to be left behind.

  • Our specific goal was for the Philadelphia School District to hire a Swahili-speaking Bilingual Counseling Assistant (BCA).
  • We were successful: In May of 2021, the Philadelphia School District hired three BCAs for the 2021-2022 school year to support students who speak languages primarily spoken by Black immigrants—Swahili, Fula, and Haitian Creole!
  • We also mobilized for school enrollment around COVID—our Social Services division ensured that, not only were students set up with Chromebooks and Wi-Fi for virtual learning, but that every refugee child who came through our doors this year was enrolled in their new school, accompanied by a friendly face from HIAS PA, within days of arriving in the United States.

✓ Ensured a Pathway to Citizenship for Liberian Refugees.

In December of 2019, President Trump created the Liberian Refugee Immigrant Fairness (LRIF) program – a program that permitted certain Liberian refugees to apply for permanent status. However, the program was set to expire in December of 2020.

  • In collaboration with agencies across the country, we were successful in advocating for a 1-year extension of the program and we continued to advocate for an additional year.

2022 Goals

  • End Afghan family separation – make sure that no Afghan family member of an Afghan who made it here gets left behind. 
  • Offer a pathway to citizenship for any temporary status  – People with DACA or with other Temporary Protected Status (TPS) have been living in the United States for years, perhaps for their entire lives. They are community members. They pay taxes. They should have a path to citizenship.
  • Make our roads safer by ensuring driver’s licenses are accessible to all House Bill 279 is still going through the PA State Legislature. Join Driving PA Forward, a coalition including HIAS PA, in contacting your state legislators often to demand driver’s licenses for all!
  • Guarantee due process for all Pennsylvanians – make sure your local government officials and State government officials know about the Pennsylvania Immigrant Family Unity Project (PAIFUP) and fund it. We need you to help us spread the word about PAIFUP in your local communities and advocate for financial support.
  • Help our community’s newest students – ensure that the school district of Philadelphia hires Bilingual Counseling Assistants for Pashto/Dari. Contact the Philadelphia School District today and ask them to provide BCAs to help Afghan students rebuild their lives in Philadelphia.

How You Can Help

TONIGHT: Join us at the table!Join us for Thankful Together!

Thankful Together, formerly known as Refugee Thanksgiving, is happening TONIGHT at 6PM!

Register here to join us tonight:

Celebrate our volunteers who make this all possible!Click here at 11:45AM to join our Annual Meeting!

Click here to join our virtual Annual Meeting!

The Annual Meeting starts at noon, but join us at 11:45AM for an informal chat before the event!

POSTPONED! Speed Advocacy: Afghanistan

Today's Speed Advocacy: Afghanistan Facebook Live event has been postponed due to a worldwide Facebook outage. We will update you as soon as possible about rescheduling the event.