July 2023 Stories from the Front Lines
Working together to welcome asylum seekers to Philadelphia
Governor Abbott continues to send buses of asylum seekers from Texas to Philadelphia since Title 42 ended on May 11th, 2023. Since then, Philadelphia’s welcoming community has provided 15 pro bono attorneys and 8 volunteer interpreters, who have helped complete asylum applications for 13 asylum seekers from 9 families at asylum clinics at HIAS PA.
HIAS PA also provides helpful information at the city’s Welcome Center to asylum seekers arriving from the southern border about ICE check-ins, how to find legal representation, applying for a change of address, and more, as part of a collaboration between local immigration organizations and the city.
-Brenda Nogales, Crisis & Humanitarian Response Program Manager
Ukrainian family starts a business after less than a year in the US!
One of my Ukrainian clients started her own cleaning company! My client, her husband, and their 6-year-old son have only been in the US since last October, so it’s amazing that they were independently able to get this started so soon. They are super excited and recently shared their first flier with me. They are also interested in learning from other small cleaning businesses in the area.
-Lia Finkelstein, Employment Access Coordinator
Young Afghan women’s rights activist receives asylum in the US!
Last week we received notice of our first Afghan asylum approval since the Taliban took over in 2021! This client is a young Hazara woman, a former Fulbright Scholar, and a women’s rights activist. She founded a nonprofit organization focused on women’s entrepreneurship in Afghanistan, and had received death threats and experienced other forms of violence due to the nature of her work and her speeches. Her family also experienced threats based on their anti-Taliban work. She was represented by a team of pro bono attorneys at Blank Rome LLP. Excitingly, she is the first Afghan parolee who was resettled by HIAS PA to receive asylum. This is only the beginning—we are still waiting on 41 more applicants’ decisions!
-Jessica Oliff Daly, Pro Bono Coordinator
Seventh grade students hear first-person experiences from HIAS PA’s Afghan staff
After reading the book, “Refugee,” the 7th grade classes at Conwell Middle School invited HIAS PA’s Education team to come speak about the field of refugee resettlement and education. Parvin Hashemi, Education Case Aide at HIAS PA, shared her experiences coming to the US from Afghanistan, and how she uses her knowledge of both US and Afghan culture to now be a source of comfort and welcoming for our Afghan families through her role as a case aide. It was a great experience, and I am really grateful to Parvin for sharing her lived experience and professional expertise!
-Michelle Ferguson, Education Program Director
- A welcoming map: Community organizers launch first Philly map in Arabic, The Philadelphia Inquirer
- Penn Carey Law clinic files complaint against Pa. correctional facility’s treatment of immigrants, The Daily Pennsylvanian
- “Now I am Free”: A Gay Ugandan Builds Community in the US, HIAS, Inc.
- World Refugee Day, WHYY
- Synagogues Continue Aiding Afghan Refugees Two Years After Taliban Takeover, Philadelphia Jewish Exponent