News & Views

Guest Commentary: Need Workers? Hire a migrant

By Cathryn Miller-Wilson


Not long ago, a weary asylum seeker named Ana arrived in Philadelphia after a long bus trip from Texas. She immediately set out to find a job but was shocked to learn that her work authorization could take up to a year. Instead of wallowing, Ana put that time to good use. She volunteered to help migrants arriving on subsequent buses, distributing literature and supplies, translating for them, sorting clothing and offering comfort.

When a colleague told me about Ana (whose name I’ve changed to protect her privacy), I wanted to shout her story from the rooftops. I’m the executive director of HIAS Pennsylvania, a nonprofit that provides legal and social services to at-risk immigrants and refugees, and I see Ana’s determination and resourcefulness in so many of our asylum-seeking clients. These families have endured treacherous journeys, often with children in tow, because they are desperate to flee gang violence, collapsed economies, dried up farmlands, persecution and despots. They want a safe haven — but they also want to reclaim their lives.

Read more.